DOWD: Biden’s opening salvo in his war on guns

In this Aug. 15, 2012, file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

On April 8, no doubt hoping to divert attention from the immigration and humanitarian disaster it has engineered on our southern border, the Biden-Harris administration thought it was high time to announce its next progressive assault on the American people: gun control.

Rattling off a series of demonstrably false claims, Joe Biden outlined a number of measures to be implemented by executive fiat. Empirical data indicates these measures would have little effect upon criminal use of firearms but would be very effective in further eroding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Facts don’t seem to matter when it comes to advancing the progressive Biden-Harris agenda.  

Truth and facts are also in short supply in Congress, where Democrat House members are busy drafting their own gun control legislation. Among the firearms “experts” dedicated to this task is Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), who regularly demonstrates a startling ignorance of that which she seeks to outlaw. In a recent television interview, Rep. Jackson-Lee falsely claimed that “weapons of war,” as exemplified by the AR-15 rifle, are driving gun violence in this country.  She called for the AR-15 to be banned. She described the AR-15 rifle as being “… as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving …” and that “… the bullets that it utilizes — a 50-caliber bullet — need to be licensed and off the streets.”

In fact, the AR-15 is the most popular modern sporting rifle in the world today because of its light weight (barely 6.5 pounds), its simplicity of operation, and the fact that it utilizes a cartridge that is among the world’s most ubiquitous small rifle cartridges, with a bullet less than half the size of that used in 50-caliber heavy military armament. In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million AR-15-type rifles are owned. These are used for target shooting, hunting and home defense.

The AR-15 is commonly characterized by the anti-gun left as an “assault rifle,” and so, they reason, it must be banned. However, there is no settled definition of this term. The term “assault rifle” (or more broadly, “assault weapon”) is as convenient for anti-gun advocates as the term “sports car” is for the marketing departments of car manufacturers. These guns are whatever the anti-gun lobby wants them to be.

Leftist politicians are writing expansive definitions of the terms “assault rifle” and “assault weapon” that reportedly would generally outlaw almost all modern rifles and pistols, by virtue of their capability of firing multiple rounds without having to stop to reload and having magazines with the capacity to hold the necessary ammunition.   

An “automatic” shotgun commonly used to hunt waterfowl thus becomes an “assault weapon.”  This definition would also include guns handed down through generations in families, such as the heirloom rifles or pistols carried by your grandfather or great-grandfather in their military service. A friend of mine owns the Model 1911 pistol that her father carried on Guadalcanal.  Tens of millions of these firearms were manufactured and many have been sold by the government to civilians. Under legislation being written by politicians such as Rep. Jackson-Lee, these weapons would be banned, and you could become a felon just by owning them.  

Joe Biden and his fellow anti-gun leftists in Congress routinely claim that if we banned “assault rifles,” crime in this country would plummet. Actual data demonstrates this is not true. The FBI crime database shows that in 2019, the most recent year for which the data is available, only 364 homicides were committed using a rifle. By contrast, 600 homicides were committed using what the FBI refers to as “personal weapons” (meaning hands, fists or feet), and 1,476 homicides were committed using knives. So, if we are to respect another mantra of the left, to “follow the science,” shouldn’t the focus be on banning hands, fists, feet and knives rather than “assault rifles”?

Empirical data shows that strict gun control laws do not necessarily equate to reduced gun violence. A case in point is Chicago and Cook County, IL., which have some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. Yet in 2020, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office recorded 970 homicides, 875 of which, or 90%, were the result of gun violence. For some perspective, this exceeds the total number of deaths (842) attributable to mass shootings in the entire United States over the past decade. In New York City, it is unlawful for citizens to possess any firearm without a license and registration in a central database, yet in 2020 the incidence of gun-related violence in the city nearly doubled from 2019, reaching levels not seen in years. 

If the Biden-Harris administration and Congress are genuinely interested in reducing crime, let’s insist they do it by enforcing the laws already on the books and prosecuting criminals, not by defunding our police departments and stripping law-abiding citizens of their constitutional right to own firearms.