A group of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to shortcut a planned new rule by the White House that would create strict new firearm definitions without Congress.
Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Braun (Ind.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike and Lee (Utah), plan to use a little-known tactic to block a new ATF rule that takes aim at home gun makers via regulating "80 percent" lowers and receivers. The lawmakers argue the change planned by the Biden administration would do little to impact crime and only stands to continue a simmering push against legal guns and gun owners.
"For the past two years, we’ve seen crime rates skyrocket all across the country, aided by Democrats’ soft-on crime policies and left-wing district attorneys operating like progressive activists instead of law enforcement officers," said Cruz. "Democrats would love nothing more than to shift the blame and stoke anti-gun sentiment, and create a permanent national gun registry in the process. By introducing this resolution, we’re pushing back—we want to stop the Biden administration from issuing the final rule expanding the definition of firearms and instituting a national gun registry, we want to stop the false narrative that links the rise in crime to ‘ghost guns,’ and firearms, and we want to protect law-abiding citizens who are exercising their Second Amendment rights."
The roadblock tapped by the GOP is a Congressional Review Act Joint Resolution of Disapproval. Under the CRA, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office compiles a report on the rule change, which can include legal opinions, which Congress can use in its review of the rule change. A simple majority vote in both chambers, signed by the President, can block a rule from taking place while preventing the agency – in this case the ATF – from reissuing a "substantially similar" rule in the future.
While the current Congress could presumably muster enough votes between Republicans and a handful of shaky Dems facing re-election in red-to-purple districts, it is unlikely the President would sign such a measure as he has publicly made much of the looming crackdown on "ghost guns."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the CRA process has only successfully blocked or overturned 17 rules since 1996, although it has been attempted over 200 times.
Nonetheless, even if the CRA hail Mary pass is unsuccessful, pro-Second Amendment groups plan to see the Biden administration in court should the final receiver rule become law.
"Biden’s recent move to expand our nation’s gun registry is illegal, and we applaud Senator Cruz and his senate colleagues on fighting this unconstitutional rule with a CRA," said Aidan Johnston, Gun Owner of America’s director of federal affairs. "We will sue the Biden administration to halt the implementation of this anti-Second Amendment rule and are pleased to see members of the senate sending a clear message that they will not tolerate this unlawful abuse of authority."