Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden has a brutal gun control platform that promises to rewrite the country's firearm laws, gravely wound the world's most vibrant shooting sports industry, and cancel modern gun culture.
In 2005, when Biden was a U.S. Senator from Delaware, he voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, legislation that was passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush to provide the American firearms industry legal protection against frivolous lawsuits that, backed by national gun control groups, aimed at the time to shutter everything from giant gun makers to small mom-and-pop gun stores.
Biden promises to "prioritize repealing this protection."
Going after "America's Rifle"
Popular semi-automatic sporting rifles such as the AR-15 today circulate widely across the country, with upwards of 18 million believed to have been produced. Despite the fact they are rarely used in crime-- of the 14,123 homicides in the U.S. tracked by the weapon used in 2018 only 235 were attributed to rifles of all kinds -- Biden plans to not only outlaw the manufacture of new guns but also "buy back" such firearms in circulation using taxpayer dollars.
If you like your AR, you can keep your AR under Biden's plan-- so long as you go through the red tape to register it under the National Firearms Act which would require a $200 tax stamp and extensive background checks.
The days of gun owners snagging a deal or planning for Christmas could get a crimp should Joe Biden enter the Oval Office in 2021. To "reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one."
Background checks for all gun transfers
Long a Holy Grail of sorts for Democrats, who have repeatedly submitted such legislation in Congress over the past decade to a lackluster reception, Biden's platform pushes "universal background checks" with "very limited exceptions."
Gun rights organizations and Republican lawmakers have long characterized such a mandate as a backdoor foundation to a national gun registry which, they argue on a long enough timeline, leads to confiscation.
Biden promises to not only reboot the policy but enact legislation to codify it into law.
Ban online sales
Linking to a policy pushed by March for Our Lives, a group that has received significant backing from national gun control groups funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the Biden platform promises a prohibition on "all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts." Such a move would not only 404 such mainstream web-based retailers such as Guns.com, but also have an impact on Main Street USA's brick and mortar shops as they often sell much of their stock online and generate a fair amount of new foot traffic handling firearm transfers for online purchases made from other FFLs.
Further, such a plan would greatly limit access to firearms in rural parts of the country where small local gun shops were margined out of business by shiny new big-box retailers who then later backpedaled on carrying popular guns and ammo. Those few shops left once the internet goes dark for them should expect more visits from federal regulators as the Biden campaign plans on restructuring the ATF in the administration’s first 100 days with marching orders to "increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal riders that get in the way of that work."
A favored policy of anti-gun groups such as Giffords, mandatory firearms licensing programs would be expanded by a Biden White House, using tax dollars to give states and local governments grants "to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun."
Just 15--mostly blue--states require a would-be gun owner to obtain some kind of license or permit to purchase or possess firearms. Many of these jurisdictions require buyers to jump through successive layers of red tape which often causes significant backlogs. For instance, in Illinois, the current wait time for a FOID card has stretched to 116 days.
"Smart Guns" Only
The Biden campaign has also committed to growing the adoption of personalized firearms, often dubbed "smart guns," from the current zero (0) percent of the market to becoming the market entirely. "Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns," says his platform.
Smart guns, typically employing some sort of authorized-user technology like a fingerprint or passcode to unlock a firearm, are not a new concept. Perennially “just a couple years away” for over two decades, few attempts have made it to commercialization. One, the $1,200 German-made Armatix iP1, was introduced in 2014 but failed to make headway on the market. The .22LR pistol, which required an RFID-equipped wristwatch to be able to fire, could allegedly be hacked with a $15 magnet and jammed with radio waves.
This drive towards a brighter era of firearms technology stops there because at the same time the Biden platform takes a Luddite-level hammer to already-existing 3D printing processes and plans to somehow "block the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet."
Mandatory Gun Locks
The platform backed by the Vice President includes a pledge to pass legislation requiring gun owners to securely store their firearms. This is coupled with the stick of going after those who don't while penalizing gun owners who have had their firearms stolen and did not report their loss.
"Biden supports legislation holding adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession of the firearm," says the campaign.
More Gun Seizures
Besides the bans, buybacks and NFA regulation, the closing of access to the online firearms marketplace, and additional regulatory steps before would-be buyers could attempt a legal gun purchase, the Biden plan also aims to make it easier to remove guns from many who already have them.
This includes a move to incentivize the adoption of more so-called "red flag" laws across the country. These controversial programs allow for police or family-- even sometimes co-workers or teachers-- to seek a seizure order which could be obtained without the subject even appearing in court. Those violating such orders face years in prison while those who file spurious claims are typically only subject to a misdemeanor, a fact that pro-Second Amendment groups have slammed as being ripe for false accusations.
Moving past the red flagging, the Biden campaign also supports a California-style program to "ensure relinquishment" of firearms from individuals who fall under a federal firearm prohibition. That program, promoted by Kamala Harris in her time as the state's attorney general, was beset by several high-profile mistakes. In one incident, a Bakersfield man expressed disbelief when armed agents came to his door to seize his guns after he was flagged for a 40-year-old marijuana possession charge that is no longer listed in the state’s criminal code.
Voters head to the polls on Nov. 3
Banner photos: President Barack Obama with Vice President Joe Biden in the Outer Oval Office, 7/16/2011, Via the National Archives; flanked by screenshots of the Biden Campaign website