Biden Says Looking at Exec Orders on Imports, DIY Guns
President Joe Biden confirmed that he is exploring his options for executive orders on firearms imports from overseas and homemade guns.
When asked by the media on Friday about such rumored actions while arriving at a Delaware Air National Guard Base in Wilmington, the 78-year-old Democrat was quick to respond.
"We’re looking at what kind of authority I have relative to imported weapons, as well as whether or not I have any authority to — these new weapons that are being made by 3D equipment that aren’t registered as guns at all, there may be some latitude there as well," said Biden.
In administrations past, imports of most firearms from China were ended by the actions of Presidents Bush and Clinton, followed by actions to bar the most popular models from Russia under President Obama. According to firearms industry trade groups, approximately 3.3 million guns were imported into the United States in 2019.
Meanwhile, when it comes to homemade firearms, often described by progressive politicians and anti-gun groups by such deceptive yet catchy brain worms as "ghost guns" and "untraceable 3D-printed guns," there is a multi-avenue push to administratively outlaw or at least further regulate such practices. This includes lawsuits against the ATF in federal court by gun control organizations, letters from pro-ban Democrats to Biden, and a call from attorneys general from 17 mostly blue states and the District of Columbia for newly installed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to regulate so-called "80-percent" frames and receivers.
Going back to the colonial period, it has always been a right of law-abiding Americans to build their own guns, without a license.
Besides the tarmac soundbite from Biden Friday, there are other signs that his administration is reading an executive move against currently legal firearms. Earlier that day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that executive orders were in the president's playbook.
"When the president was the vice president in the Obama-Biden administration, he helped put in place 23 executive actions to combat gun violence," said Psaki at the daily press conference. "It’s one of the levers that we can use — that any federal government, any president can use to help address the prevalence of gun violence and address community safety around the country."
The Wall Street Journal on Friday also detailed recent meetings between the ATF and firearms makers about DIY guns.
"The discussion between officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and firearms manufacturers is expected to focus on a possible expansion of the definition of what counts as a firearm, according to people briefed on the plans," the Journal’s Zusha Elinson reports. "Such a move could subject ghost guns to the same regulations as other firearms."
Besides possible ATF rule changes, which could easily face court scrutiny, such as the agency's 2018 bump stock ban, legislation has been introduced to require "firearm assembly kits" to be firearms. In the U.S. House, H.R.1454 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and has 88 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation argues that, despite usually sensational headlines about cases of “undetectable” firearms, all guns are heavily regulated under a variety of current federal laws, regardless of how they are made.