After being asked about the recent murders of innocent Americans at the hands of deranged individuals in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Chesapeake, Va., the president added, “Zero. None. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced to walk back the president’s remarks with record speed.
Ban ‘Em All
President Biden’s Freudian firearm slip isn’t surprising. He frequently boasts of his record of “taking on” the gun industry before and “winning.” That’s referencing the 1994 ban on so-called assault weapons that then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) supported. In 2019, then-presidential candidate Biden was asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper about his true gun control intentions.
“To gun owners out there who say a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns…” Cooper began. “Bingo!” President Biden interrupted. “You’re right, if you have an assault weapon … The fact of the matter is they should be illegal. Period.”
Fast forward a couple years and the president expanded his wish list of banned firearms to include one of the most popular selling handgun calibers among law-abiding firearm owners – the 9 mm.
“The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon, whether it’s a 9 mm pistol or whether it’s a rifle, is ridiculous,” President Biden told supporters. “I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things.”
It comes as no surprise then that when asked by media following the tragic murders in Colorado and Virginia, the president vocalized his true beliefs. He wants to ban semiautomatic firearms, including America’s most popular selling centerfire rifle and most popular selling handguns. He throws them all under the umbrella of “weapons of war.”
At the earliest White House press briefing following the president’s remarks, Karine Jean-Pierre, The White House press secretary, was asked to clarify and she walked it back.
“No. He was talking about, talking about assault weapons,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s what he was talking about when asked that question.”
There was no follow up to ask Jean-Pierre how the president differentiates between semiautomatic rifles like he wants to ban and semiautomatic pistols as he’s included before. The administration – and gun control advocates across the board – would likely be tongue-tied in their attempts to define what they mean by so-called “assault weapons,” or Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs). The truth is it’s the same one-trigger-pull, one-fire technology that’s been around for more than a century, whether a handgun, a rifle or even several varieties of hunting and recreational shotguns.
It’s the same definition trouble President Biden’s failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) director nominee and gun control lobbyist David Chipman fumbled through during his confirmation hearing when he struggled to answer the question before finally admitting, “Senator, there’s no way I could define an assault weapon.” President Biden can’t define it, The White House can’t define it and Congressional Democrats who continue to push for stricter gun control can’t define it either.
Time Running Out
There are more than 24 million commonly-owned, lawfully-purchased MSRs in circulation today, according to NSSF firearm industry data. Law-abiding Americans own many more times that number of 9 mm handguns and according to industry data the gun-owning community has never been more diverse than it is now, with women and minorities leading the buying spree over the past few years.
President Biden can thank himself for the growing number of Americans legally buying firearms. In fact, the same number of Americans bought firearms during the first twelve-months of the Biden presidency alone than did during the first years combined of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
With Congress returning to Washington, D.C., President Biden has upped his calls for his new “assault weapons” ban but the door is almost shut. Republicans won back control of the U.S. House of Representatives and will take the majority once the new session begins in January. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) admitted there aren’t even enough Democratic votes in the Senate to pass an MSR ban.
Gallup reported that Americans’ support for stricter gun control has dropped nine percent since June and their support for a ban on MSRs is below the 50 percent mark for the first time ever. President Biden continues to deny reality on his gun control ambitions – whether he “misspoke” or stated his true intentions.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.