Gun Rights Face Whirlwind Of Federal Action In 2024

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jan 18, 2024 - 02:25 AM

Authored by Michael Clements via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours)

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock)

Eighteen months after it was enacted, President Joe Biden credited the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) for “saving lives.”

“I am proud to have taken more executive action than any president in history to combat gun violence in America, and I will never stop fighting to get even more done,” President Biden said in a Jan. 5 statement

“Congress must enact universal background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, end the gun industry’s immunity from liability, and pass a national red flag law.” 

President Biden credited the enhanced background checks in the BSCA for denying “more than 500 illegal gun purchases by people under 21 years old who presented a danger to our communities.” 

He has also touted the disbursement of $1.5 billion to schools to add safety measures, and an increase in prosecutions of gun dealers due to a “revised definition” in the BSCA. 

Second Amendment advocates, on the other hand, say that the BSCA has done nothing but restrict the rights of law-abiding Americans.

Mark Oliva, managing director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the Biden administration has used the BSCA “as a launching point for executive overreach.”

He said the president has issued executive orders, promoted new laws, directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to write new rules, and changed legal definitions to get the gun control he wants. 

“And that, of course, would be illegal. The executive branch cannot gin up or just miracle out of thin air their own criminal law,” Mr. Oliva told The Epoch Times.

White House officials didn’t respond to an email from The Epoch Times seeking comment for this story.

A San Mateo County sheriff's deputy enters the crime scene area as law enforcement officials investigate a mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan. 23, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Federal officials said that violent crime involving firearms was on the rise, especially from 2019 to 2022 during the pandemic, and the BSCA was crafted to address the problem.

According to FBI crime statistics, violent crimes, including homicides, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery spiked during the pandemic.

Homicides increased from 14,678 in 2019 to 18,965 in 2020, according to FBI data. In 2022, they had reached 19,200 nationwide.

Many experts blame lockdowns, school closures, business shutdowns, and other pandemic-related issues for the increase.

In addition, the May 2020 death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers sparked riots and calls to defund the police. Many of America’s largest cities heeded those calls, either cutting police department budgets or diverting funds to other programs.

This resulted in fewer officers on the streets and a hesitancy by some police officers to interact with citizens, out of concern over how the action might be portrayed in the media.

Protesters hold signs in support of defunding the police in Oakland, Calif., on July 25, 2020. (Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)

Those localized issues may have skewed the numbers, according to a research group.

A study by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) found that 2 percent of U.S. counties accounted for 56 percent of murders in 2020. The study, published in January 2023, showed that the vast majority of communities didn’t have a serious violent crime problem.

Homicides fell by an average of 14 percent nationally in the first nine months of 2023, compared to the year-earlier period, according to FBI data, although the agency says not all law enforcement agencies supplied data. And the homicide rate remains higher than pre-pandemic 2019.

The 2023 decrease is one of the statistics that the Biden administration hails as proof of the BSCA’s success.

“There’s more work to do, but we’re making real progress: there was a significant drop in crime in 2023—including one of the largest-ever yearly declines in homicides in history,” President Biden said in the Jan. 5 statement.

But, several factors other than the BSCA could have played a role, said Second Amendment rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, the founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.

A woman prepares to fire a rifle at a gun range during the Rod of Iron Freedom Festival in Greeley, Pa., on Oct. 9, 2022. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

He said that even before the BSCA was enacted, courts and local and state governments had been affirming and expanding gun rights. And, changes that had been made in the wake of the 2020 riots were being rolled back in some areas.

Many cities, including Chicago, New York, and Portland, Oregon, that had downsized their police department budgets, reversed course as crime increased.

According to the National Association for Gun Rights, 27 states now allow so-called “Constitutional carry,” the carrying of firearms without a license. So, criminals in those states know their intended victims are more likely to be armed than previously had been the case.

Between 2019 and 2023, 14 states adopted Constitutional carry laws. Six of those states, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, Florida, and Georgia, adopted Constitutional carry in 2022.

“I don’t think [the BSCA] has had much impact other than to provide [President Biden] with talking points,” Mr. Gottlieb told The Epoch Times.

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) talks to reporters as he walks through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington on June 23, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In addition, changes in how the FBI gathers crime data means that fewer police departments reported data for 2021 and 2022, including those in some of the nation’s largest cities such as Los Angeles and New York.

The FBI said that in 2022, 15,724 agencies submitted data out of the 18,884 eligible “state, county, city, university and college, and tribal agencies.”

Republicans who supported the BSCA promised the law would address violent crime without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took heat for helping broker the deal with Democrats. In a Jan. 2 email to The Epoch Times, Mr. Cornyn’s press secretary, Tatum Wallace, wrote that the senator stands by his decision.

Since the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act became law in June 2022, Texas colleges, universities, school districts, and community organizations have received nearly $40 million for school safety, community violence prevention, and mental health resources,” Ms. Wallace said.

In addition, she wrote that the BSCA has led to nearly 20 indictments of violent offenders in jurisdictions across the country and provided $200 million in new Byrne JAG formula grant funding for crisis intervention programs, mental health courts, veterans treatment programs, and drug treatment courts.

“Every state, including states with Republican governors, has accepted this funding pursuant to an implementation plan,” Ms. Wallace wrote.

In September 2023, barely 16 months after the BSCA was signed, Mr. Cornyn and 16 other senators were criticizing a decision by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to cut funding for archery and hunter safety programs in public schools to comply with the BSCA. According to a letter signed by Mr. Cornyn and 16 other senators, Mr. Cardona misread the law.

In response to Mr. Cardona’s decision, Mr. Cornyn, Sen. Kyrstyn Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act to clarify that students may have programs and activities such as archery and hunting safety education under the BSCA.

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