Around noontime on Thursday, April 8th, 2021, President Joseph Robinette Biden, Junior, gave a speech where he outlined his executive actions concerning the regulation of firearms in the United States. Stymied by a lack of action favorable to his agenda by Congress, Biden moved forward with his promise to use the levers of executive actions/orders to push forth his anti-Second-Amendment agenda and attempt to satisfy the wishes of key segment of his donor/supporter base.
The executive actions, of course, were no surprise to us Second Amendment Radicals and armed citizens…
The actions announced concerned, of course, 80 percent builds, aka “ghost guns”, braced pistols, red flag laws, firearms sales contrary to the law, community violence prevention programs, and most concerning, the nomination of David Chipman as ATF director. We’ll delve into Mr Chipman’s oh-so-stellar record later, but first, let’s break down the actions announced.
Actually, before we fisk this day’s announcements, let’s delve into an important distinction – today’s announcements were executive actions, not executive orders. This is an extremely important distinction, one that is lost on both sides of the gun debate in this country.
The Difference Between Executive Actions And Executive Orders
The difference is simple. An executive action by the President is basically an informal proposal or move by the President and his administration. Basically, it’s an idea that the President wishes to see come to fruition. It could be something as simple as the President wanting to see 50 percent of cars sold in the US to be electric drive by 2030, or in the case of today, the President requesting that his agencies do a thing related to guns.
Conversely, an executive order is a binding directive to a federal agency to implement something, or a clarification on a law. A good example of that is when President Trump ordered the Department of Justice to clarify the definition of “machine gun” to include bump stocks in 2018.
What Biden did today was issue executive actions. Nothing in terms of federal firearms laws changes at this time.
Anyway – let’s break down the dirty details of today’s executive actions concerning firearms in the United States.
“Ghost Guns” aka 80 Percent Kits/Builds
For the budding Second Amendment Radical and armed citizen, it’s a thing to build your own firearm. Whether it’s an AR-15 constructed from components sourced from various vendors, or a bespoke GLOCK-compatible pistol of some sort, it’s a really good way to make something that fits you, and keep the tradition of firearms craftsmanship alive in our nation.
Popularized by noted dramatist and bureaucrat Kevin de Leon of California, the term “ghost gun” is the layman’s term for the 80 percent build of pistol, rifle, and I suppose a shotgun. I’ve yet to see an 80 percent shotgun kit though…
That being said, the term “80 percent” represents the line where the ATF deems something to either be an inert chunk of metal or plastic, or a firearm. In the US, it’s 100 percent legal to manufacture your own firearm for personal use. Some jurisdictions require registration and serialization, but in most of the US, an 80 percent build, provided you don’t sell it to someone else, needn’t be serialized or see the inside of an FFL’s acquisition/disposition logs aka the bound book.
The most popular 80 percent build kits at the moment can be sourced from Polymer80, whom offers kits to build clones of GLOCK and other pistols, as well as unfinished AR-15 receivers. Since they aren’t firearms by federal law, they can be shipped right to your doorstep. Add your own slide, barrel, pins, trigger, sights, and so forth, and you can have a complete and custom functional pistol to call your own. It’s a testament to craftsmanship and the fine American tradition of gunmaking to build your own.
The media and the current occupants of the White House see this as problematic. The claim is that one can assemble a functional pistol in about 30 minutes. Unless you’re exceedingly handy with tools or are a professional machinist or gunsmith, this is simply not true. Or you suck, and do it in 30 minutes and it doesn’t work.
Producing a functional firearm from a kit such as the Polymer 80 takes time, patience, and practice. Also since there’s a lack of standardization amongst clone components, it’s sometimes the case that a kit firearm will require further adjustment even after completion. It may go bang once, but a stray ridge of plastic could prevent cycling, for example.
The “fear” is that criminals are buying P80 kits en masse, and cranking out untraceable guns by the tens of thousands. Sure, there’s reported cases of 80 percent builds turning up at crime scenes, but it’s hardly an epidemic. Heck, some of the builds found in the wild aren’t even complete guns. There’s been cases where police capture a gang member with a Polymer 80. Upon closer inspection, the items confiscated didn’t have triggers or pins. The suspects in the crime affixed slides to P80 frames. No firearms were seized, technically.
Anyway – the verifiable incidents of 80 percent anything is so low, that it’s certainly not worth the level of effort that may be expended to somehow classify inert pieces of plastic as “firearms”.
Let’s put it this way – if a criminal wants a gun that’ll most likely work, they’ll go steal one or “borrow” one. There aren’t crafty budding gunsmiths in high-crime blue cities cranking out blasters from 80 percent kits for the gangs. And they sure as hell aren’t 3D-printing them.
As it stands right now, Biden has requested the Department of Justice to produce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking within the next 30 days. Stay tuned.
As was speculated, the spectre of additional regulations concerning the popular pistol braces, such as the ones by SB Tactical and KAK for AR-15s and similar platforms, has resurfaced. The ATF tried to do this in December of 2020, but after a combination of an extreme uproar from us Second Amendment Radicals and the industry as a whole, the Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking concerning pistol braces was shelved. Recently, speculation surfaced that another factor was that the Department of Justice realized that the ATF wasn’t able to issue NPRMs.
But we all knew that regardless of the issuing body, the idea of regulating braced pistols would come back.
The idea, of course, is to bring braced pistols under the purview of the National Firearms Act, warranting a $200 tax per weapon, plus registration. If successful, it is theorized that the move would classify over 4 million items as NFA firearms. Even if the government were to waive the $200 tax stamp fee and only require registration, this would be a bold move to make an end run around the registry prohibition of the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986. Long a thorn in the side of the committed anti-gunner, FOPA has been an obstacle to the “dream” of a comprehensive national firearms registry in the United States. As we’ve been over in the past, registries solve nothing from a crime perspective – you’re still equally dead if shot with a registered gun as opposed to an unregistered gun. Cops also seem to be able to solve crimes without a registry, as well.
The only purpose of a registry of anything is to catalog items the government may want to confiscate later on.
The fallout of this policy, if put into place, would be enormous for gun owners:
It would reinforce the precedent, set by President Trump with the bump stock ban, that one only need to redefine words to make something contraband. Oranges are illegal. We want to make apples illegal. There’s 5 million apples out there lawfully owned. Congress won’t outlaw apples since half the members are pro-apple. The Executive Brance declares an apple to be an orange since it’s kind of round and has juice inside.
If pistol braces are reclassified, my gut feeling is compliance with the reclassification will be low. You’ll have millions of contraband weapons out there, with scant enforcement. Mainly because the definition of a braced pistol is so vague, and also because in the event of them being declared contraband, they won’t come out to play much anymore. It’ll be a slow-burn ban. Also since the penalty for unregistered NFA items is the same regardless of item possessed, some people may just be “in for a penny, in for a pound” and convert their pistols into short-barreled rifles.
That being said, since the misstep in December showed the government’s hand, the pro-2A organizations in our nation already have their legal salvos lined up. The Firearms Policy Coalition, the NRA, and the GOA already have lawsuits lined up and ready to go, if needed. This could be a bellweather example of what we can do when we put our minds to it.
Ah yes, the red flag laws. A national red flag law has been basically DOA. With only a slim majority of support in the House, and a likely defeat in the Senate due to the filibuster and barring that, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, sought-after red flag laws at the national level aren’t looking likely. So, the Biden Administration has requested the DOJ (and anyone else for that matter) to come up with a blueprint for states and municipalities to draft their own red flag laws.
Let’s be blunt – no one who poses a danger to themselves or an offensive danger to others should be in possession of a firearm. Yes, there’s “should” and what happens in the real world, i.e. bad guy with a gun, but it’d be nice if evil people (inside and outside of government!) did not have access to firearms.
Other than racism, the only other yardstick of gun control has been “mental instability”. However, the sciences of the mind are inexact at best. Yesterday’s crazy is normal today. For example, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder up until the 1970s, and beyond in some cases, by the DSM. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, now in it’s fifth edition, is the benchmark of the mental health profession. Psychologists can make legally-binding calls on someone’s mental state, using this as a guide.
Had the DSM not been revised to drop homosexuality from the definitions of mental illness, my pro-2A LGBTQ friends would be subject to disarmament by force of law, based on the opinions of “science”.
With no due process either. As Trump said – “take the guns first…”.
I’m wagering Biden’s model for red flag laws will be California’s on steroids. Imagine snitch lines, broad categories of “petitioners” such as spouses, relatives, ex-partners, teachers, doctors, nosy neighbors, political rivals, Facebook moderators, weird anti-gun people in the park, dogs, cats, the goldfish…
Much like the red flag laws themselves, Biden’s executive action is a waste of time. Already, most jurisdictions have legal provisions for the disarmament of violent people. For example, a lot of domestic violence restraining orders have a boldface provision that the respondent turn over any guns in the home for the duration of the order. Of course, since the provision isn’t enforced, people for some reason think more laws are the answer.
All this will codify is trial by the mob and witch hunts.
Apparently the Biden Administration wants an annual report on firearms transfers they consider illegal. Not sure why this needs an executive order. Just have one of the hangers-on in the White House put their Excel skills to use before the holidays. All the data is there, just collect it. This EA is a waste of time. But then again, that’s what the government does – wastes things.
This sounds nice, but I have zero faith that the government will do anything positive in this regard. Any program put forth will be a virtue-signaling shitshow and accomplish nothing. It’ll be by design as well. You won’t see programs to educate and engage inner-city folk in high-crime areas – they’ll trot out a few “guns down” programs for show and maybe some compensated turn-in events, but anything truly effective, i.e. giving people education and opportunities, won’t factor in. It’s easier and more media-friendly to blame guns, “white supremacists”, and the NRA.
Sorry Joe, I don’t buy this one.
The executive actions are one thing. While concerning, they can be stopped by sheer grit and determination on our part.
The bigger problem, is the Biden administration’s nomination of one David Chipman to be the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives aka the BATFE, aka the ATF, or as President Biden put it – the AFT.
The ATF hasn’t had a director since 2015, with only a series of Acting Directors filling the role, since the full Director position requires approval by the Senate. For various reasons, Obama, and later President Trump, were not able to get a director confirmed, and with the election and the ‘rona in 2020, the whole process took a back seat to more media-friendly methods of annoying and repressing the population.
The ATF is naturally viewed with suspicion by the firearms industry and gun owners in general, and in the grand scheme of things the Directorship is usually just the nut on top of the proverbial shit sandwich, i.e. the choice doesn’t markedly improve the entire ensemble.
Until now. A career bureaucrat, David Chipman spent 25 years as a ATF agent, monitoring so-called firearms trafficking in the Northeast. More concerning, Chipman was an apparently-enthusiastic participant in the Waco siege in 1993, with photographic evidence of him depicted standing in the smoldering ruins of the Branch Davidian compound. Sidebar: this isn’t an endorsement of David Koresh, but rather of the the methods by which the government handled the affair. Standing proudly for a photo op in the rubble where 76 children died isn’t exactly a good thing.
To add insult to injury, Chipman later lied on a Reddit Ask Me Anything post, where he claimed the Branch Davidians shot down a Texas ANG helicopter using .50 caliber rifles.
After his career at ATF, Chipman took his gun control advocacy to the Bloomberg-sphere. While being a gun control advocate and supporter is morally reprehensible, he had every right to do so. Freedom of thought and all. He became a consultant to various gun control and confiscation groups, such as what is now known as Giffords, run by Gabrielle Giffords and her radiation-fried husband space-truck driver Mark Kelly.
Chipman also supports the expansion of the NFA to include things like AR-15s, AK-style rifles, and so on – “regulate them like we do machine guns”, as it were.
Personal defects aside, Chipman is suspect for the Directorship, due to his extreme biases in one direction on the issue of firearms in the United States. Since the ATF is supposed to be an executive branch agency, i.e. in charge of executing existing laws, the director of said agency should be (at least in public), politically neutral, especially on the issues the agency deals with. To be fair, it wouldn’t be appropriate for an NRA lobbyist to head up the ATF either. Chipman as ATF director is as if Dr Mengele headed up the Department of Health. Sure, they might know a thing or two about their subject, but their opinions and use of that knowledge are suspect and evil.
So, if given the nod, expect a very pugnacious ATF, with broad “interpretations” of existing laws and definitions. Expect enforcement actions to rise, especially if they play well in the mainstream media.
Chipman is a true “problem child” in society. Having basically been raised and in the employ of the administrative state and “elite” society all his life, Chipman views those who think independently to be a threat to his so-called society. He has no place in public service.
His whole ethos since becoming an adult is that big and invasive government is “the way”, and that he is somehow better than all of us. Pandering, violent, and elitist, David Chipman, and everyone like him, are the real problem in this country.
So, where do we go from here? How do we stop all this nonsense? With regards to the executive actions, we’ve pushed them back before. If the executive actions become executive orders, there will be a legally-required Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking posted on the Federal Register at the regulations.gov website. If one recalls, we pushed back the ban on citizen purchase and use of M855 ammo using this method, and we pushed back the first attempt at a pistol brace ban last year as well. Barring that, there’s the court system, where the rulings can be tied up and stayed for years and rendered ineffective.
The battle to block or at least render pointless the confirmation of David Chipman as ATF director is a little more complex. The job requires confirmation by the Senate, which means a series of hearings and interviews. I’m wagering the order of battle will be split along party lines, but I have suspicions about certain Republicans, which is a bad thing, and a certain Democrat (Joe Manchin) which is a good thing. Chipman’s confirmation can be denied by the Senate, and that’s where we will need to fight.
Get on your Senator’s ass. Point out Waco, his less-than-stellar treatment of arrested suspects, and inherent biases. If your Senator is a Democrat, play the cop card and hell, the woman card. Right now, the ATF is under the supervision of Acting Director Regina Lombardo. The agency hasn’t fallen apart, and things run as they usually do. Objectively, she is doing the job of Director, while being Acting Director.
Democrats, are you going to push a woman from a high-ranking government position in favor of a white male cop with a penchant for brutality and killing children?
As Kurt Schlichter says – it’s time for conservatives to play by the new rules. Drag the enemy through the mud, character assassinations, the whole nine yards. See how they like it.
Another angle of attack is via the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement. Right now, a startling amount of counties, municipalities, and even entire states have vowed not to use their public resources to promote or enforce federal gun control edicts. One county in Missouri has even pledged to arrest federal agents enforcing gun control laws in their territory. If Biden’s executive orders are enacted, it’ll be the first real test of Second Amendment Sanctuaries. Will they allow the citizenry to fall victim to federal overreach? Only time will tell.
This is the first major move in a hopefully-remaining-cold battle for the essential spirit of liberty and independence in our nation. We need to act like it.
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