Mass shootings may spur Biden on Gun Control Plans

March 25, 2021


Matthew Hoy

Two mass shootings in less than a week appear may spur President Joe Biden to put his spending plans on the back burner and push a series of gun control initiatives that are unlikely to have prevented either event.

Gun control advocates have been frustrated that executive orders on gun control were not among the flurry of actions taken in the opening days of the Biden administration. It appears that it has taken two high-profile shootings to get Biden to potentially move on some of his campaign promises to the far left.

Background check bills awaiting action in Senate wouldn't have mass shooting attacks

There are two bills passed on largely party-line votes in the House that are awaiting action in the Senate. One bill requires so-called universal background checks on firearms transfers and would impose those rules on states that have refused to pass such laws. The other extends the time the FBI and ATF can delay a firearms transfer from 3 calendar days to up to 20 business days.

During his brief statement today, Biden encouraged the Senate to pass both of these bills, but both the Georgia and Colorado killers reportedly passed background checks when they made their purchases at retail gun stores. [Restricted Arms does not name spree killers in order to deny them the fame they crave.]

Colorado already has universal background checks as well.

Biden calls for new assault weapons ban; the old one didn't work

Biden also used his brief statement to renew his calls for an assault weapons like the one we're still awaiting text on from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Feinstein, Biden and their colleagues claim the ban worked in preventing the mass shootings. But analyses from both the Foundation for Economic Education and the the Rand Corporation, expose this as a lie. What appears to be the case is that once the definition of what constitutes a mass public shooting is sufficiently tortured, you can get whatever data you desire.

For example, this CNN article uses a criteria that includes "four or more casualties (dead or wounded)" excluding the perpetrator. With that criteria, the Boulder shooting that left 10 dead was the seventh such incident in seven days. While CNN uses this formulation when it's convenient for its gun control narrative, it obviously didn't treat the other five incidents with the same breathless coverage they did for the Georgia and Colorado attacks.

While the two most recent attackers did used so-called assault weapons, it's important to remember that rifles of any kind are used in crimes exceedingly rarely. More people are murdered each year with knives than with rifles of all kinds, and "assault weapons" are a subset of those weapons.

(Reports indicate that the Colorado shooter may have used an AR-style pistol, rather than a rifle. Those guns typically have no stock and a shorter barrel. The use of AR-pistols in mass shootings is even more rare than AR-style rifles.)

Other proposed actions also would not have prevented this past week's attacks

Politico reported that one of the proposed executive actions would be to require background checks on so-called ghost guns. These are incomplete firearms that require machining and additional parts before it can be used as a functional firearm. These partially-made frames, often called 80% lowers, do not come with serial numbers and don't require background checks because they are not technically a firearm.

Americans have made homemade firearms since before the nation's founding. Current federal law only requires such homemade guns to have a serial number if they are later sold. Neither of the shooters guns were ghost guns.

In the Colorado case, it appears unlikely that Biden's proposed ban on so-called high-capacity magazines would have much effect either. Colorado already prohibits sales of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Biden's preferred legislation would make a lower, 10-round limit the law, but there's no indication in either case that magazine capacity was an issue in the lethality of either attack.

The Georgia attack took place over several locations, with plenty of time to reload between them. The Colorado shooter could not have legally purchased magazines that hold more than 15 rounds since their sale was banned in Colorado in 2013.

Restricted Arms on the Radio

I appeared on Dave Congalton's Radio Show yesterday, March 24 to briefly discuss the shootings, Biden's gun control plans, and the breaking news on the Ninth Circuit's evisceration of the Second Amendment. You can listen to the audio of my appearance below.

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