Back in January, a 72-year-old lunatic shot and killed 11 people at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California. Today Biden is in that same California town to announce his signing of an executive order. The order focuses on stopping “gun violence,” something Biden promised to do while running for president.
Joe Biden's Latest Gun Control Executive Order—
Gun control legislation is not popular on a national level, and try as he will, the President hasn't achieved his party's long-stated goal to get Congress to pass universal background check legislation. With a politically divided Congress, it doesn't look like that legislation becomes a reality in this administration. So this executive order (EO) is the President's attempt to make good on the promise. The White House described the EO:
It aims to move the US “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation”
Universal Background Check Legislation—
Universal background check law is the gold standard for gun control advocates because it is a necessary component of a national gun registry. Without universal background checks and a national gun registry, gun control advocates can't turn non-criminal, law-abiding citizens into criminals and seize their “weapons of war”.
Currently, states have the authority to regulate private party gun sales within their borders. Some states choose to allow private parties, those who are not acting as a gun dealer and do not have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to sell a firearm to another private party without conducting a background check. Some states prohibit this practice and force all gun sales to go through an FFL and the seller to conduct a background check.
Right now, the definition of who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms is not clear. Private parties who sell a few guns a year from a personal collection are generally not considered dealers, and wouldn't need an FFL. The EO directs Attorney General Garland to clarify the statutory definition of who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms.
The Intended Result—
If the goal of clarifying the definition was to protect private parties from inadvertently breaking the law and selling a quantity of guns that would put them in the category of an FFL, this might be a good thing. But given the stated goal is to move the country “as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation” this doesn't bode well for freedom. It's likely that the anti-gun AG Garland will return with a definition that essentially turns anyone selling a gun into someone “engaged in the business” of selling guns, thus meaning every sale would need to go through an FFL.
Executive orders are still subject to the checks of the Judiciary Branch and, as we've seen with many presidential EOs, legislative challenges from states and individuals are to be expected.
More on Biden's Executive Order—
According to NBC News, besides trying to create de facto universal background checks through EO, Biden's order does the following:
- Urges members of Biden's Cabinet to promote effective use of extreme risk protection orders, or “red flag” laws, in 19 states and Washington, D.C., by partnering with law enforcement agencies, health care providers and educators.
- Encourage the Federal Trade Commission to compile a report examining how gun manufacturers market firearms, including to minors.
Non-Legislative Attack on Freedom and Gun Rights—
It's clear the battle for gun rights isn't being waged in congress. Those who want to curtail the Second Amendment and take away the individual's right to own a firearm—and make no mistake, they do—are using non-conventional methods. We've seen:
- Regulatory agencies like the ATF essentially ban firearms and components by directive and changing definitions.
- Choke out firearms manufacturers through lawsuits.
- Use banks to destroy companies that sell anything related to firearms.
What Can You Do—
First, I don't think the sky is falling, and I don't write this post as a “call to arms”. This EO from the President is bound to face legal challenges and so it's unclear what, if any, changes will come from it. That doesn't mean we should ignore the obvious message.
Pay attention to who you vote for and where they stand on questions of individual liberty. The question of gun rights is a pretty excellent litmus test on where the candidate stands on other freedoms and how they view the Constitution and the government's power.
What do you think about President Joe Biden's latest Executive Order? Let us know by leaving a comment below.