Frustration with President Joe Biden’s “stuck-on-repeat” gun control focus that lets criminals run rampant is boiling over in Congress. Republican leaders in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are telling The White House that they are ignoring a crime crisis to push a radical gun control agenda.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to President Biden to end partisan attacks to advance a gun control agenda. Sen. Grassley pointed to The White House’s repetitive nominations of gun control advocates to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a position of public trust that must remain above the political fray. Instead, Sen. Grassley warned that presenting nominees who are entirely political in the execution of their duties would denigrate public trust.
President Biden recently nominated Steve Dettelbach to become ATF’s Director. Dettelbach has a public record of advocating for firearm bans, universal background checks and so-called “red flag” laws that violate Due Process and Second Amendment rights. Sen. Grassley was instrumental in blocking President Biden’s previous nominee, David Chipman, who was – and still is – a gun control lobbyist. NSSF awarded Sen. Grassley the 2021 Legislator of the Year Award for his principled stand.
“The ATF Director’s roles should include having an appreciation for the role that firearms play in the lives of Americans, as well as servicing as a credible, effective liaison with the firearm business community,” Sen. Grassley wrote. “In this light, Mr. Dettelbach’s writings and social media activism are concerning and serve to undermine his ability to carry out those important roles.”
Senate Course Correction
Sen. Grassley reminded the president that the ATF Director isn’t someone installed to promote political agendas or carry out vindictive punishments. Rather, the role is distinctly apolitical. The person fulfilling the duties, Sen. Grassley wrote, must be an individual that respects Second Amendment rights, “and can deal fairly with the firearms industry.”
Sen. Grassley added, “The ATF Director’s roles should include having an appreciation for the role that firearms play in the lives of Americans, as well as serving as a credible, effective liaison with the firearm business community.”
Sen. Grassley also chided President Biden for his pending Final Rule to redefine frames and receivers. That rule would also require firearm retailers to maintain records in perpetuity instead of the current 20-year standard. Sen. Grassley scolded The White House for wrongly blaming firearms when the administration should reverse course to confront the rising crime crisis.
“This is merely another attempt to use misleading statistics that lack context to rally support for failing Democrat policies,” Sen. Grassley wrote, adding, “Democrats have recently attempted to shift the blame for the rise in violence in blue cities to not only lawful gun owners, but also conservative states.”
House Course Correction
Criticism of President Biden’s ignorance of the crime crisis to advance his gun control agenda also came from Republican House leaders. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the Republican Congressional Conference Chair, wrote in an email alert, “As crime continues to skyrocket in cities across the country due to the Defund the Police movement and Far-Left policies, President Biden has chosen to attack law-abiding Americans exercising their Second Amendment right.”
Rep. Stefanik debunked The White House’s hyperbolic claims of personally-made firearms. She cited similar FBI statistics that Sen. Grassley referenced in his letter. President Biden spoke of 325 homicides or attempted homicides connected to so-called “ghost guns” between 2016-2022. FBI statistics show there were 89,076 homicides during that time span, which doesn’t include attempted murders. Rep. Stefanik pointed out that this shows 0.36 percent of homicides were tied to these firearms.
“Rather than weaponizing the ATF to violate the Second Amendment right of law-abiding Americans, President Biden and House Democrats should start enforcing the laws we already have and turn their attention to the real threat facing our communities: the explosion of violent crime and increasingly emboldened criminals,” Rep. Stefanik wrote.
All Americans want safer communities. The way to get there is through frank and honest discussions, not scapegoating and blame-shifting. The White House must listen to Congress and address crime to serve the interest of Americans. Blaming lawful gun ownership is the wrong answer.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.