"Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets," said Biden.
The Brady check system run by the FBI, in place since 1994, applies to modern firearms transferred over the counter by federally licensed firearm dealers. Going further, at least 13 predominantly blue states have universal background checks on all transfers, including between two private individuals. Taking the latter policy nationwide has been popular with Democrats in Congress going back to 2013's Manchin-Toomey amendment which came within four votes of passing the Senate. Democrats in the House approved a similar measure in 2019 but it was never considered in the Senate.
According to firearms industry groups, one of the most popular types of rifles, year over year, have been modern sporting rifles such as the AR-15. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that upwards of 18 million such firearms are in circulation in private hands. Further, there are also another 75 million standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges on the commercial market, with some designs dating back to the 1900s.
The federal Assault Weapon Ban, adopted in 1994 with the help of then-Senator Joe Biden, expired ten years later. When signed into law by President Bill Clinton, there were an estimated 1.5 million affected "assault weapons" in circulation. A 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department into the ban's effectiveness found that "Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement." Revisiting the ban in 2014, analysis by the New York Times, a publication that could never be mistaken in modern times as having a pro-gun bent, found the law made little difference in crime.
According to FBI crime statistics, of 13,927 homicides in 2019, the year with the latest available figures, rifles were used in 364 cases, or about 2.6 percent. By comparison, knives were used in 1,476 cases.
When it comes to insulating the gun industry – ranging from giant firearms makers to mom-and-pop local gun stores – from being smothered in frivolous lawsuits by activist gun control groups, Congress in 2005 approved the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA. Repeal of that safeguard has long been a sought-after goal of anti-gun groups and progressive Dems. It should be noted that no law prevents litigation against gun companies and dealers who negligently entrust others with firearms or market faulty products, and companies have been successfully sued for both.
“The PLCAA only bars frivolous lawsuits that seek to blame gun manufacturers and dealers for the criminal misuse of lawfully sold, non-defective products,” Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the NSSF, explained to Guns.com previously.