It has been painfully clear for some time that Joe Biden will do anything he can to achieve his goal of diminishing the rights of law-abiding gun owners. He has a long history of supporting legislative efforts to eviscerate the Second Amendment while he was in Congress for more than a third-of-a-century, was Barack Obama’s consigliere on gun control when he served as vice president, and has continued to promote anti-gun legislation as president.
But beyond legislation, he has worked to expand gun control through the powers granted him as our nation’s chief executive officer. Anti-gun extremists urged Biden before and after he took office to circumvent the legislative process to implement gun control and harass both law-abiding gun owners and the organizations that support them, like NRA. Anti-gun politicians did the same.
While likely falling far short of what the anti-gun community expects out of Biden, he has used the powers of his office to attack the Second Amendment at times (see here, here, here, and here).
On the other hand, one of Biden’s most spectacular failures during his first year in office was within the scope of his executive authority; the debacle of nominating an anti-gun lobbyist to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Even tepid supporters of the Second Amendment balked at such a radical nomination.
Now, with the recent announcement that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer would retire at the end of the current court’s term, Biden has an opportunity to cement his anti-gun legacy for several decades using his executive power to influence the judicial branch of the federal government.
A recent FOX News piece noted Biden claiming, “You know, there’s always a renewed national debate, every time we nominate, any president, nominates a justice, because the Constitution is always evolving slightly in terms of additional rights, or curtailing rights.”
While he did not specify as to what rights he feels should be subject to potential “curtailing,” we are reasonably certain it would include the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Perhaps those who support other rights enshrined in our nation’s founding documents should be nervous about whether their concerns are also subject to Biden’s “curtailing.”
The main problem with what Biden said is that rights exist irrespective of the Constitution. The Constitution merely recognizes certain rights, and makes it clear that the government shall not pass laws (or impose bureaucratic regulations) that infringe on those rights. This is why our Founders wrote in our Bill of Rights such definitive phrases as “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting” and “shall not be infringed.”
They did not write “Congress can make some laws, based on what is popularly accepted at the time.” Nor did they write, “shall be subject to some infringement, if those in power deem it acceptable.” They understood rights already existed, and wanted to make it clear that the government is prohibited from interfering with those who wish to exercise their rights.
Many laws have, of course, already been passed that violate the protections intended in the Second Amendment, and many more have been proposed. We will continue to fight to repeal those passed and oppose those suggested. Such laws and proposed legislation likely fall under what Biden approvingly refers to as “curtailing rights.” One need only listen to Biden whenever he talks about firearms to know that there are probably innumerable laws he would like to see passed that would further his “curtailing rights” agenda.
We will have to wait and see who Biden eventually nominates to replace Justice Breyer, but we certainly don’t anticipate someone who believes the Second Amendment means what it says, or who follows the precedence of important Second Amendment rulings like the ones in District of Columbia v. Heller or McDonald v. Chicago.