Re: The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash

I consider myself politically Liberal, and I like guns.

I own 12 guns at last count and supported Bernie in ’16.

I have an Elizabeth Warren sticker on my truck and a gun under the back seat of the same truck.

I grew up hunting and shooting in rural, southern Mississippi and support Medicare for All, Free College, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, etc.

I have bought guns without a background check, built a “ghost gun”, own more than a few “assault weapons + high capacity magazines”, have purchased a suppressor (still waiting due to regulation), and I think America’s gun laws are too lax.

I read The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic, and I think it’s an uninformed mess.

Let’s go through it.

Section 1 — Lawsuits

Hold gun manufacturers accountable.

For what exactly would the gun manufacturers be held accountable? The balance to be struck is between just lashing out because of a tragedy and placing blame where it rightfully belongs.

Victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting sued gun manufacturer Remington for their marketing of the rifle that was used in the shooting including with the tagline “Consider your man card reissued.”

  • Is this crass? Yes.
  • Should “manhood” be synonymous with violence? No.
  • Is Remington responsible for the mass shooting? No.
  • Is leveling righteous indignation at Remington productive? I don’t think so, but I’m open to compromise.

Section 2 — Weapons of War

Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

  • What IS an Assault Weapon?
  • How much capacity is too much?
  • What about belt fed firearms?

These details are incredibly important and the key to having a productive dialog. The only real detail is that “the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality.”

The end game is clearly to completely cut off the supply of “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines and reduce the current supply in circulation.

I am perfectly willing to compromise and ban the manufacture of magazines that hold more than 30 rounds, but we cannot even begin to have a conversation without more details!

PS: randomly thrown in is the line

ban the importation of assault weapons

but “Assault Weapons” have been banned from being imported since 1989!

Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.

The NFA currently regulates all the most fun firearms (Machine Guns, Suppressors, Short Barreled Rifles [SBR], Destructive Devices, etc). Federally speaking, all of these are absolutely available to anyone who can legally own any firearm if they are willing to jump through the arduous bureaucratic hurdles and purchase a Tax Stamp $200 per NFA item.

Forcing the most popular rifles in America to be regulated as NFA items would have far reaching implications:

  • What happens at the State level where all NFA items are banned?
  • This will disproportionately affect people with less disposable income.
  • The ATF currently takes an average of ~200 days to process and approve applications for NFA items. Expanding the scope of the NFA to include the most popular rifles in America will overwhelm the already backlogged system.
  • This is weedsy but important: if all “Assault Weapons” are NFA items would that mean that registering my rifle as an SBR would be the same as registering it as an “Assault Weapon”? If so then how and why are SBRs considered more dangerous than my AR-15 that I own right now? If they’re regulated the same and cost the same then there will be an influx of these “more dangerous” NFA weapons being created instead of “Assault Weapons” being registered. I digress.

Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities

At market value? From who? Gun culture is obsessed with the idea of “losing guns in a boating accident” in order to keep their weapons buried in the backyard even if they were explicitly illegal. A very, very, very small percentage of gun owners would voluntarily sell their guns even if there were a buy back program.

Reduce stockpiling of weapons.

Prevent people from buying more than 1 gun per month. Ok cool I’ll just “stockpile” bolt actions slowly since it’ll already take years to get approval for the ATF to purchase a single “Assault Weapon”. Also is this per calendar month or 30 day period? Details!

Section 3 — Keep guns out of dangerous hands.

Require background checks for all gun sales.

Again, this is something I am perfectly willing to compromise on. I have already advocated to do just that! I would suggest however that to make it more palatable it would be nice to see some actual compromise.

Close other loopholes in the federal background check system.

Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed.

Close the “hate crime loophole.” [Prevent people with hate crime misdemeanor convictions from buying or owning guns.]

Close the “Charleston loophole.” [Increase time for FBI to complete background check from 3 days to 10 days.]

Close the “fugitive from justice” loophole created by the Trump Administration.

Ok cool — now help me sell it to other gun owners by giving them something in return! See my suggestions at the end of this rant.

Section 4 — End the online sale of firearms and ammunition.

The exact text (and ALL of it) is:

Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Honestly this is the one that is the least informed, least detailed, and makes me the most worried.

Firearms — Today the only way to buy a firearm online without a background check is to buy it from an individual (ie the “gun show loop hole”). This would be closed by the previously mentioned universal background legislation.

Ammunition — If you’re not requiring a background check to buy ammunition then what’s the point in requiring someone to go to a brick and mortar store to buy it?

Kits and Gun Parts — What is a kit? A parts kit? A build kit? An “80%” piece of plastic or metal? A block of aluminum? What parts? Accessories? These are all unregulated items - NOT firearms per legal definition. What’s the point other than to make this annoying for gun owners and hobbyists and to make any progress hard to make?

Section 5 — Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons.

This is the confiscation that every “gun nut” is worried any gun legislation will lead to. The (not unfounded) worry is that the government will declare all gun owners as “prohibited” and come knocking to take all the guns.

I am not against certain people from being denied the right to own firearms. But there needs to be a lot of emphasis on oversight.

Section 6 — Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws.

See above.

Also, there needs to be more due process. “Innocent until proven guilty” applies to everyone — even gun owners. Pre-crime is fiction.

Section 7 — Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs.

I had to take a hunters education class before being allowed to acquire a hunting license. I think as long as the details ensure this is not purposefully and unnecessarily burdensome, I’m perfectly willing to compromise on this too!

Section 8 — Adequately fund the background check system.

Yep. Better fund the ATF too while you’re at it so I don’t have to wait 9 months before I can take possession of the suppressor I’ve already paid for.

Section 9 — ADDRESSING THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

This seems shoehorned in here, but ok. Again, willing to compromise; looking for something in return.

PS: As long as we don’t start with the nonsense that video games being a precursor to gun violence.

Section 10 — Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility of ensuring their weapons are used safely.

Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns.

Here’s an idea! Let’s have the police and Secret Service equip with and pilot “smart guns” and then we’ll talk. Until you’re willing to trust you life with a “smart gun” I’ll wait.

Is this a long term solution? Maybe. But I don’t want to Alpha test this with my life.

Hold adults accountable for giving minors access to firearms.

Eh this could be abused, but -again- I’m willing to compromise.

Require gun owners to safely store their weapons.

See above.

Section 11 — Empower law enforcement to effectively enforce our gun laws.

Prioritize prosecution of straw purchasers.

Ok. I can give you some whataboutism about how there are more serious crimes, but I’m fine with this.

Notify law enforcement when a potential firearms purchaser fails a background check.

Ok. Sounds like a failure of Government bureaucracy that this isn’t already happening so, yeah, get on that.

Require firearms owners to report if their weapon is lost or stolen.

I agree to an extend. “Require” is meaningless without enforcement. What is the enforcement? Are gun owners criminally liable like when a minor gains access to a firearm? If so, this throws back to the potential for abuse, but again I am willing to compromise.

Stop “ghost guns.”

Let’s slow down and walk through this.

“buying a kit of disassembled gun parts”

This is NOT a firearm. It’s a box of parts with the receiver (the part that is LEGALLY the FIREARM) either missing or destroyed per ATF regulations.

“3D printing a working firearm”

If the proliferation of online piracy has taught the powers that be anything it should be that once it’s on the internet it’s there forever. 3D printing technology is better every day. There’s no way to stop this without attempting to regulate the entire internet, and also vigorously pursuing and prosecuting those who dare to download a CAD file on the internet.

“passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check”

A background check to get a flash drive with a CAD file on it? Ok Boomer.

“block the code used to 3D print firearms”

Again — can’t stop the signal.

Reform, fund, and empower the U.S. Justice Department to enforce our gun laws.

Sure, as long as there is sufficient oversight to prevent abuse.

Direct the ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking.

Coolio.

Section 12 — TACKLE URBAN GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS

Dedicate the brightest scientific minds to solving the gun violence public health epidemic.

Good luck but go for it.

Prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to discharge firearms.

  • Should we require teachers to carry a firearm? No.
  • Should prohibit them from getting training if they voluntarily want to? No.

What’s wrong with more gun safety training if someone is worried they will be targeted? We should also better fund security at schools in general. I thought we loved the police state.

Address the epidemic of suicides by firearms.

comprehensive plan to improve access to mental health services.

Sounds good.

While we’re on the topic of suicide accounting for 6 in 10 gun-related deaths, we should note that the vast majority of suicides by gunshot are committed with pistols — not “Assault Weapons.”

Section 13 — SUPPORTING SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES

Make federal programs more trauma-informed.

Create a network of trauma care centers.

Train health care and other service providers in trauma-centered care.

Go for it. Though I do feel these were thrown in at the end as a token to support the idea that it’s a public health crisis. Feels slimy, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How to actually compromise with gun owners.

Offer something in return!

But seriously, here are some ideas if you want to be serious:

Deregulate Suppressors.

They are not Hollywood quiet. Even the quietest suppressed firearms are barely OSHA hearing safe. The John Wick airport suppressor duel is as realistic as Sharknado. Even in the original 1934 NFA that regulated suppressors there was no actual justification. Many European countries have little to no regulation of suppressors.

Set up a system to allow anyone to check if a firearm has been reported stolen.

Even without universal background checks this would help undercut the “black market” of private firearms sales.

Better fund firearms safety training programs.

Want there to be fewer accidental firearms deaths? See above.

Loosen the firearms importation laws.

Canadians can buy foreign guns that we Americans cannot. If they’re safe enough for Canada why not use this as leverage to get something accomplished that would actually save American lives? Once legally imported into the country, foreign guns are no more deadly and are regulated exactly the same as American made guns.

Deregulate SBRs.

As mentioned in Section 2. The proliferation of pistol braces makes SBR regulation mostly moot anyway.

Plus, the ironic fact is that a 5.56x45 round existing a 10in barrel on an SBR is actually travelling slower and will do less damage than the same round existing a 16in barrel on an unregulated rifle.

Deregulate Short Barreled Shotguns (SBSs)

Which of these is more regulated, requires a $200 tax stamp, ~9 months waiting, and must be more dangerous?

Sawed off coach shotgun
Belt fed .50 BMG rifle

It’s the shotgun.

Somehow the classic sawed off, double barreled, cowboy shotgun is more heavily regulated than a belt-fed “full semi-automatic” .50 BMG.

Shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18in are regulated the same as machine guns under the NFA. Joe loves to talk about how awesome shotguns are for self defense. Why not work with us here then?

Other Ideas

  • Reducing the age to buy a handgun from 21 to 18.
  • Require a red flag order to produce substantive evidence in 72 hours before it becomes null and void.
  • Federal concealed carry reciprocity. Respecting all concealed carry licenses, regardless of issuing state, in all 50 U.S. states and territories.

Parting Shots

I hope that somehow we can start having a more civil discourse around this topic that leads to real progress. But trying to lead with emotions (either for gun control or against) is not going to get us there.

Peace.

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