Biden’s Gun-Limitation Schemes Make a Mockery of His ‘Unity’ Message
Just months into President Joe Biden’s tenure, his early calls for “unity” look not only insincere—something we expect of any politician—but positively laughable. Last week, he threatened executive action to tighten restrictions on privately owned firearms in a move bound to infuriate gun owners, including millions of people who purchased tools for self-defense for the first time amid the chaos of the past year. Much of the country is certain to ignore his dictates, including state and local governments who have already vowed that they won’t enforce such rules. Forget unity—the president has found an effective means of deepening the country’s divisions.
“I asked the Attorney General and his team to identify for me immediate, concrete actions I could can take now without having to go through the Congress,” the president huffed from the White House on April 8. “And today, I’m announcing several initial steps my administration is taking to curb this epidemic of gun violence.”
The legality and wisdom of his proposed restrictions on arm braces and “ghost guns” aside—Jacob Sullum ably dissected those schemes elsewhere—Biden’s plan to bypass Congress is a wild departure from his insistence at his inauguration that “my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation.” After all, he’s bypassing Congress specifically because lawmakers are very definitely not unified around an anti-gun agenda. That includes Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), from Biden’s own party.
Also not unified around attempts to restrict self-defense rights are states and localities the federal government relies on for most of the muscle to enforce its laws.
“On Thursday President Biden is expected to announce a series of executive actions addressing gun violence,” Arizona’s ABC 15 affiliate noted before the president’s speech. “No matter what those actions are, there is a very good chance that in Arizona, they’ll be ignored.” The news story came after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill prohibiting all political subdivisions of the state from using personnel or resources to enforce laws incompatible with Arizona’s own gun regulations.
Wait. States can go their own way on gun policy? You bet.
“Although the federal government may use its power of the purse to encourage states to adopt certain criminal laws, it is limited by the Tenth Amendment—which prevents the federal government from directing states to enact specific legislation—in its ability to directly influence state policy or requiring state officials to enforce federal law,” a 2014 Congressional Research Service report concluded with regard to marijuana. The results of the constitutional principle are seen in the in the states that have legalized marijuana, as well as sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Guns are just another area in which states can tell the feds to enforce their own laws without local assistance.
Many individual gun fancier
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