President Joe Biden has unveiled his plans to curb the increasing rise in crime afflicting the nation. As previewed by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the administration is focused specifically on gun crime rather than other forms of lawlessness, which have also seen a major increase. The president and Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined a number of measures on June 23 that they feel will check the explosion in crime predicted for the summer months.
While much debate will doubtless ensue on the constitutionality, specificity, and scope of the proposed actions, commentators have launched an opening salvo to deride President Biden’s understanding of firearm ownership in America both present-day and from a historical perspective.
The president said that his strategy would work on strengthening background checks, banning what he terms “assault rifles,” community policing, and a ban on high-capacity magazines. “Talk to most responsible gun owners they’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a magazine,” he said.
He also outlined that gun dealers who sell to customers who are not eligible to own firearms or who refuse to cooperate with tracing requests from the ATF will be targeted. Biden said, “If you willfully sell a gun to someone who’s prohibited from possessing it, if you willfully fail to run a background check, if you willfully falsify a record … my message to you is this: We’ll find you, and we will seek your license to sell guns.”
Critics are arguing that – based on the president’s own words – he has failed to understand the historical and legal significance of the Second Amendment. A short excerpt from the president’s speech appears to display some fundamental misunderstandings.
Biden stated that “from the day it was passed [the Second Amendment] limited the type of people who could own a gun, and what type of weapon you could own.” At the time of its writing, the people who could not own firearms were slaves and Native Americans – a policy now deemed discriminatory and not one that today’s America would likely seek to emulate.
In terms of what weapons could be owned, the intent was that the weaponry would keep pace with the time. In fact, many of the ships and cannons employed during the American Revolution were privately owned, demonstrating that individuals were not only allowed but expected to hold arms of equal power to that of the government. Many would acknowledge that modern capabilities have outstripped what the public is able to access in terms of firepower, and the commander in chief also said that “If you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons,” sparking backlash for what some deem threatening language.
The National Rifle Association was quick to respond, suggesting that Biden’s measures were little more than a distraction from the true causes of rising crime. NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said:
“This is a political red herring aimed at hiding the real and abysmal failures of the Biden administration. Crime rates are high because of the efforts to defund the police and a failure to prosecute career criminals. The simple fact is strict enforcement of existing laws – including gun laws – coupled with support of law enforcement and prosecutors to do their jobs would result in a dramatic decrease in crime. But, the president would rather play politics than make Americans safer.”
The president justified his stance by saying, “We’re not changing the Constitution. We’re enforcing it.” This sentiment will certainly be debated in both the media realm and the courts of America, but whether Joe Biden is right or wrong that his measures will result in less crime remains to be seen.
One consequence almost guaranteed is that many Americans who cherish their Second Amendment rights will see this as government overreach, and rather than an added enforcement of the Constitution, as an attack against it.
Read more from Mark Angelides.