By Lee Williams
The Biden-Harris administration has done more harm to the Second Amendment than all previous administrations combined. Biden and his unelected, behind-the-scenes shot-callers have been methodical in their multifaceted war on our civil rights.
The next administration – if it’s one that actually respects the law and its citizens – will have a lot of work to do to restore the Second Amendment to what the Framers had in mind. It will be a daunting task. The Biden-Harris administration has hammered law-abiding Americans with dozens of infringements – aided and abetting by the legacy media and a variety of anti-civil rights groups, some of which received taxpayer dollars.
What follows is a list of suggestions for how to restore our civil rights. The list is neither complete nor comprehensive. It’s more of a starting point and, unlike the Constitution, a living document. It includes actions that can be taken immediately and long-term goals that may require Congressional support.
Fire ATF Director Steve Dettelbach
Joe Biden’s second choice to head the ATF, Steve Dettelbach, lied under oath when he told his Senate confirmation committee that he would not use the power of his office to lobby for new laws or regulations. Recently, Dettelbach called for banning “assault weapons,” which he could not define, and standard-capacity magazines.
Dettelbach has allowed unelected bureaucrats in the White House to weaponize the ATF. Under his watch, the ATF routinely violates the civil rights of law-abiding Americans. His agency shrugs off criticism even from lawmakers who are supposed to provide oversight and is not accountable to the public. ATF ignores requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, which is federal law, even though it is a federal law enforcement agency.
Disband the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention
Joe Biden created the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention two months ago to “reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country, and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.”
Its goals include banning “assault weapons” and standard-capacity magazines, safe storage laws, universal background checks and elimination of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
The fact there is an office in the White House funded by taxpayer dollars that is solely designed to strip away our civil rights is an insult to millions of Americans.
Disarm and downsize ATF
The ATF has one, albeit minor, role. It can trace a firearm used in the commission of a crime, which is important for law enforcement agencies. ATF staffers do not need to be armed when engaged in this supportive role. Pathologists, lab techs and other evidence specialists are not armed. ATF staff do not need to carry weapons, either.
This would eliminate most of their nonessential personnel, such as the agency’s 2,600 special agents who are not involved in conducting firearm traces. It would also eliminate the agency’s SWAT teams, which are barnstorming the country and responsible for a host of actual crimes and civil rights violations.
Create a Church-style committee to investigate ATF
The Church Committee was formed in 1975 to investigate abuses by the CIA, NSA, FBI and IRS. It found a massive amount of wrongdoing, which was released to the public in six voluminous reports.
Today, the American public is no less deserving of the truth. Outside of the gun community, ATF’s crimes are not well known, since the legacy media will ignore even the most serious misdeeds if they involve guns or the Second Amendment.
A Senate select committee is one way to get to the truth, and it is a mechanism that Dettelbach and the anonymous shot-callers in the White House could not easily dodge. Law-abiding Americans deserve to know how their own tax dollars were used to infringe upon their civil rights.
DOJ should investigate, prosecute Second Amendment violations
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was created in 1957 by the Civil Rights Act. Its mission is to “uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all persons in the United States, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
While it focuses mainly on discrimination, the Civil Rights Division investigates and prosecutes other violations of federal law. Recently, it has enforced sex abuse and sex trafficking statutes. The Civil Rights Division could easily add Second Amendment violations to its mandate.
Within the Civil Rights Division is the Special Litigation Section, which investigates civil rights abuse by state and local police, as well as those responsible for operating jails, prisons and mental health institutions. It is a federal mechanism that could easily investigate ATF. The agency needs to answer for its creation of an illegal gun registry and the civil rights abuse of numerous Federal Firearm Licensees, as well as actual crimes committed by overzealous agents. It would be a powerful tool, since the Special Litigation Section has never lost a case.
Stop defending ATF’s unconstitutional regulations
Every new rule the ATF has promulgated since Biden took office has two things in common: They’re designed to turn millions of law-abiding Americans into felons if they do not comply, and the courts are finding them unconstitutional. The ATF is losing in courtrooms across the country, regularly. Taxpayers have already subsidized the defense of too many of ATF’s illegal rules. It’s time for this legal sham to end. The ATF needs to be told to throw in the towel.
Audit anti-civil rights group that received taxpayer dollars
Giffords, Brady and other anti-civil rights groups have received millions of taxpayer dollars, especially post-pandemic. These groups must be held accountable for how our money was spent.
Rescind Biden’s executive orders
On July 11, 2022, the White House unveiled 21 executive orders they claimed would reduce “gun violence.”
Biden’s orders targeted homemade firearms and pistol braces, created a zero-tolerance policy for gun dealers, and made it easier for states to create unconstitutional red-flag laws, which allow firearms to be seized by the government without due process.
Last March, the White House released another list of executive orders, which chip away at our civil rights. All of Joe Biden’s anti-civil rights executive orders need to be overturned.
Moratorium on FFL revocations
Until there is a thorough investigation of the hundreds of gun dealers who have been stripped of their livelihood for even the most trivial of clerical errors, all revocations of Federal Firearm Licenses should be stopped. The entire process needs to be put on hold.
Review every FFL revocation
Shortly after Biden took office, he announced a war on “rogue” gun dealers. Biden and the ATF created a five-point definition to identify “rogue” dealers:
- Refusal to allow an ATF inspection
- Transferring a firearm to a prohibited person
- Failing to conduct a background check
- Falsifying records
- Failing to respond to a trace request
Fortunately, there were few dealers who violated even one of Biden’s five points. ATF was forced to tighten the screws in order to produce the revocations that the White House was demanding. As a result, the agency changed the meaning of the word “willful,” and promised zero tolerance for any willful violation. Now, the agency considers even a minor clerical error to be a willful violation, which puts the gun dealer at risk for revocation of their FFL.
The ATF recently added a new technique that experts say is evidence of a quota system for FFL revocations. Agents now use threats and intimidation to coerce Federal Firearm Licensees into “voluntarily” surrendering their license. The results are staggering. According to ATF’s own data:
- There were 29 FFL revocations and “voluntary” surrenders during the last six months of 2021.
- There were 157 FFL revocations and “voluntary” surrenders during all of 2022.
- There were 292 FFL revocations and “voluntary” surrenders during the first six months of 2023.
- Based on the data and the increase in ATF enforcement actions, there will likely be more than 600 FFL revocations and “voluntary” surrenders by the end of 2023.
Every one of these nearly 800 FFL revocations and “voluntary” surrenders needs to be examined by personnel who are outside of ATF. They’ll likely discover that most of these gun dealers were victims. Their civil rights were violated. Someone needs to be held accountable for this.
Dettelbach and his entire leadership team need to answer for the crimes and civil rights violations committed by ATF personnel every single day. These suggestions are a starter for a much larger conversation.
This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.