On the most generous reading, the goal of Biden’s plan is to ensure that there are fewer guns in the world and in the streets. But even in that spirit, we still have to think about who’s going to end up with the guns that remain in private hands.
People like Mark McCloskey, the lawyer made infamous for brandishing his AR-15 at Black Lives Matter protesters as they walked past his sprawling St. Louis mansion, will be able to pay whatever fees Biden throws at them, and will thus be able to hold onto as many weapons as they like. But territorial weekend warriors who feel no accountability to the community, and show little regard for gun safety, are exactly the kind of people who shouldn’t have guns.
By contrast, leftist community firearm clubs invest serious time into training and safety education, carefully vet their memberships and work arm-in-arm with the marginalized communities they are invited to protect.
And yet under Biden’s plan, the former are who will be able to afford to hold onto as much firepower as they so desire, while the people they want to hurt will be left high and dry. Simply depriving poorer people access to firearms will not rectify the structural issues such as poverty, inequality and lack of economic mobility that are correlated with gun violence.
The plan says nothing about handguns, which are responsible for far more deaths than other kinds of guns, or about expanding mental health services, or disarming the police who are responsible for an unconscionable amount of gun deaths. Nor does it do anything about the networks of right-wing radicalism that have inspired the overwhelming majority of domestic terrorist attacks or the media pundits and politicians (including Trump himself) whose rhetoric exacerbates the problem. It just focuses on the big, scary guns.
If cutting down on gun violence is the end goal here, what good could it possibly do to disarm the working class and ensure that only the well-heeled (and the agents of the state who defend them) will be able to hoard stockpiles of highly efficient weaponry?
Gun sales have already skyrocketed during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and political tensions throughout the country are incredibly high. This divisive plan will do little to curb gun violence, and will instead hammer home the vast inequalities still dividing this nation.