What Will Happen to Gun Rights Under the Biden Presidency?
Any time a liberal candidate is elected to become President of the United States, gun rights and regulations take center stage. Historically, gun sales have surged in the two months between a Democratic presidential nomination and inauguration. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing right now.
A Quick Primer on the Second Amendment
Whenever gun laws and regulations become a key topic of conversation, it’s important to push past the filler and focus on the meat. In other words, start with the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights and what it says:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That’s it -- nothing more and certainly nothing less. It’s 27 simple words, passed by Congress in 1789, ratified in 1791, and held as law for nearly two and a half centuries.
And while there’s certainly room for disagreement in today’s context, it’s important to remember why the Second Amendment exists.
First off, the right to bear arms is an insurance policy against a government that could potentially become too onerous. And as the American government continues to grow and tighten its grip on its citizens, having the means to overthrow the government (if necessary) is more important and relevant than ever before. (Nobody is saying it’ll ever come to this, but having this option is something that’s integral to protecting the rights of the citizenry.)
Secondly, the right to bear arms gives citizens personal protection against domestic enemies. In the early days of this country, there was no state or national police force -- particularly in rural areas. Instead, wanted criminals had bounties placed on their names and armed citizens were expected to capture them. Armed citizens were also expected to protect their own homes (and help protect their neighbors in times of need). And though police forces have increased in size and geographical reach over the last 200-plus years, they still don’t possess the ability to be anywhere and everywhere at once. The right to bear arms ensures citizens can serve as the first line of defense until law enforcement is able to step in.
Thirdly, the right to bear arms gives citizens the opportunity to be self-sufficient and hunt their own food. And while this was certainly more relevant in the early days of this country, it’s still a significant right in modern times. While not expressly outlined in the Constitution, early records of debates and discussions at Constitutional Conventions show that the right to bear arms was viewed as a necessity for hunting. (In fact, New Hampshire reportedly would not ratify the Constitution unless the right to bear arms was explicitly stated. And their reasoning for the Second Amendment had more to do with hunting and nourishment than it did with protection from an oppressive government.)
Times have certainly changed over the past couple of centuries, but the need for American citizens to have the right to bear arms is more relevant than ever.
“When our forefathers wrote the 2nd Amendment, they kept in mind the first law, of nature’s right to self-defense. I think we are again at this critical moment in history, and I agree with [supporters of the Constitution],” one concerned citizen recently wrote in an op-ed piece for the Virginia Gazette. “We may have to decide again to fight a tyrannical government should socialist democrats take control of our government and enforce a socialist ideology on our republic.”
While those on the left often scoff at the idea that they’re supporting a socialist movement, it’s hard for an objective individual to come to any other conclusion. A Joe Biden administration may not be a socialist platform, but it’s trending in that direction. And anytime the government expands, it’s nearly impossible for it to contract back to its original size or orientation. This is true with any part of the Constitution, including gun laws and proposed infringement on the Second Amendment.
What Biden Has Said He’ll Do
There’s always going to be a lot of speculation on what a Biden administration could do, but for now, let’s focus on what Biden has said he will do. Here are a few takeaways that come directly from his official gun control proposal:
- Ban on Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines
“Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons.”
- Mandatory Gun and Magazine Registration
“Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.”
- Mandatory Gun Confiscation
“Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.”
- Ban Manufacturing of All Non-Smart Guns
“Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.”
How Law-abiding Citizens Can Prepare
Whether or not Biden and his administration will be able to pass any or all these laws remains to be seen. However, it’s wise for law-abiding citizens to prepare for the possibility. Here are a few suggestions:
- If you don’t already own a semi-automatic rifle -- like an AR-15 rifle -- and would like to purchase one, now is your best opportunity to purchase one with the least amount of friction possible.
- If you already own firearms, now is the best time to load up on ammunition. It’s very possible (even probable) that a Biden-led administration will attempt to dramatically increase taxes on ammunition in the future.
- Continue to speak up in support of your Second Amendment rights. Gun owners cannot and should not remain silent on this issue.
Putting it All Together
It’s important that we don’t overreact. Emotions are always heightened in the direct aftermath of an election. And as we lead up to Inauguration Day, we must remember that we have a system of checks and balances in place for a reason. While a Biden administration is certainly going to be more oppressive to Second Amendment rights, it’s unlikely that they’ll be successful in totally revoking your right to bear arms.
We must remain vigilant and be prepared to fight for the unalienable rights that our forefathers fought so hard to have our government acknowledge.
UPDATE: We edited the last sentence to reflect that our rights are not "granted." The genius of our forefathers is a Constitution that acknowledges these unalienable rights.