2021 was undoubtedly a big year for the gun world. Will we see that continue into 2022?
Here are a few key things we know to expect in the new year, plus a few other possibilities.
One of the biggest things guaranteed to happen in 2022 is the Supreme Court issuing a ruling in the New York gun-carry case. The Court heard oral arguments for the case NYSRPA v. Bruen earlier this November, and a ruling on the case could be released at any time before the end of June 2022.
Depending on which way the court rules, and how broad the scope of the ruling is, the decision could have major implications for gun carry across the country. The Court also seems poised to establish a standard for lower courts to follow when reviewing future Second Amendment cases, which will have even broader implications for gun rights.
Outside of the courts, gun carry is likely be a major feature of certain state legislatures in the new year. Expect to see the push for permitless carry to continue in states with unified or near-unified Republican control.
Both chambers of the Ohio legislature have now passed a version of a permitless carry. It is very likely that one of them will find its way to Governor Mike DeWine’s (R.) desk at some point in 2022.
A state senator in Nebraska has already pledged to introduce a permitless carry bill next year, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R.) has said he would sign such a bill if it reached his desk. Likewise, similar bills have been introduced in Indiana, Georgia, and Alabama. Momentum for a permitless carry bill is also building in Florida after Governor Ron DeSantis (R.) said he would support it.
We should get clarity on the two major gun rules pending with the ATF: the classification of pistol braces under the National Firearms Act and the updated definition of firearm “frames and receivers.” The proposed rules represent the biggest steps the Biden administration has been able to take in pursuit of the president’s aggressive gun-control agenda.
April Langwell, Chief of the ATF’s Public Affairs Division, previously told The Reload that the two proposed rules were among the most commented on in ATF history. She said the agency is reviewing the comments before finalizing the rules.
“ATF currently has a group of employees reviewing both the comments on definition of firearm and stabilizing braces,” she said. “Those reviewing track the comments expressing support and opposition. All comments are reviewed for content and given careful consideration. The notice and comment period enabled anyone to submit comments on any part of the proposed rules. While drafting the final rule, the agency will base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record, consisting of the comments, expert opinions, and facts accumulated during the rulemaking process.”
The proposed rule on pistol braces received 237,569 comments, and the proposed definition of firearm frames and receivers received 290,031. The majority of comments on both proposed rules were overwhelmingly negative.
She said the ATF’s final draft would then be reviewed by Congress before adoption.
“Congress and the Government Accountability Office will have an opportunity to review the final rule prior to its effective date,” Langwell said.
According to the Federal rulemaking website, the date for final action on the firearm frames and receivers rule is June of 2022. The date for final action on the proposed Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces is August of 2022.
Gun Control Legislation
With 2022 being an election year, expect swing states and the federal government to be a little more tentative on the issue of gun control. Democrats from vulnerable districts likely won’t be looking to push the envelope with such a hot button issue ahead of an election where Republicans are already poised to make gains.
There is one caveat though: you could see solid blue states where gun control is overwhelmingly popular doubling down on new laws to appeal to their base voters ahead of election season. The Governors of California and New York Attorney General announced plans to use the model of the Texas abortion law to go after guns. We could see those plans materialize into formal policy in the new year even beyond those two states.
The question of whether or not elevated gun sales continue into 2022 will be one to watch. After the record-breaking year of 2020, 2021 carried on strong with the second-highest gun sales on record. Will that momentum carry over into the new year?
Pandemic-related anxiety and the civil unrest that helped fuel the spikes of 2020 and early 2021 have largely subsided. However, there’s at least some early evidence that new concern over crime is starting to spur another buying spree, even in unlikely places.
Whether or not that takes hold nationwide remains to be seen, but we know that concern over crime and personal safety—real or perceived—can be a major motivating factor for people to purchase firearms. Surveys routinely show that personal protection is the number one stated reason for gun ownership now.
As new data is released in the new year, we should have a better understanding of how the new normal for gun sales is going to look moving forward.
2021 certainly proved to be a year full of big gun news. It’s already looking like 2022 could be another consequential year.