If things continue on as they have this week, we’re about to see a federal gun-control package passed, a gun-control advocate confirmed as ATF Director, and 30 percent of the AR-15 ammo market cut off. That’s pretty remarkable.
What’s more remarkable is two of those events will only happen because of Republican support. While none of those represent the top priorities for gun-control advocates, combined, they are an undeniably significant win for them. And a considerable loss for gun-rights advocates.
With the discharge of President Biden’s ATF nominee, Steve Dettelbach, to a full Senate vote garnering 52 yeses, it’s likely a foregone conclusion he’ll be confirmed by the end of the month. The other two moves could still flounder.
Winchester and the gun industry’s trade group are actively fighting against the shutdown of overrun manufacturing of M855 for the civilian market. And the Senate talks have hit some speed bumps this week, which I take a close look at in a members’ piece.
We also have news on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s (R.) response to the Uvalde shooting. In contrast to Senate Republicans, he isn’t pushing for new gun restrictions.
Professor David Yamane also publishes his first Reload piece on how guns are normal in America and all that implies. In the same vein, Konstadinos Moros looks at how rare it is for somebody with a concealed carry permit to break the law, especially gun laws.
And I examine why one of those top gun-control priorities, an “assault weapons” ban, isn’t going anywhere at the federal level anytime soon.
Plus, Punchbowl’s John Bresnahan joins the podcast to give an insider take on the Senate gun talks.
Upwards of 30 percent of the current civilian 5.56 NATO ammunition market could disappear if President Joe Biden (D.) gets his way.
That’s the warning from one of the nation’s top ammo makers and the gun industry’s trade group. Winchester Ammunition and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) told The Reload that the Biden Administration wants to shut off overflow production of the rounds commonly used in AR-15 rifles. Those rounds are sold to American civilians and comprise a sizeable portion of the current market.
“NSSF has been in contact with officials at Winchester Ammunition regarding the Biden administration’s consideration of halting sales of excess M855/SS109 ammunition,” Mark Oliva, an NSSF spokesman, told The Reload. “Winchester was informed that the government is considering restricting the manufacturing and commercial sale of legal ammunition produced at the Lake City, Mo., facility.”
If completed, the move would further drive up prices for the popular ammunition. The price hikes would likely last for years, given how difficult it has already been for civilian ammo makers to meet increased demand driven by the recent uptick in gun ownership.
The move could produce significant political fallout as well. If President Biden attempts to choke off a substantial supply of ammunition to the civilian market, it could upend the new and fragile bipartisan senate gun agreement. An aggressive, unprecedented gun-control maneuver could sow distrust as the negotiations enter a critical final stretch.
Senate Reaches Gun Deal
By Stephen Gutowski
A bipartisan group of 20 senators announced on Sunday they have agreed on a framework for new gun legislation.
The framework includes nine reforms targeting gun sales, mental health services, and school security. The framework is light on details but includes policies such as funding for state “red flag” legislation and emergency mental health services.
“Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the group said in a press release. “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”
Senate gun negotiations have reached a critical stage, and hiccups are starting to show.
Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) is one of the most important signatories to the framework. He has long been the GOP’s go-to man on gun policy. He was key to getting the framework together. He’s also now the most publicly pessimistic about the deal making it across the finish line.
Cornyn had initially said he hoped to get the text of the bill done by the end of this week, which could still happen, but he’s become more pessimistic as the week has gone along.
“I’m frustrated,” Cornyn told CBS News reporter Alan He on Thursday. “I’m not as optimistic right now. But we’re continuing to work.”
So, what are the potential sticking points, and why are they so hard to work out? We only have the barebones framework, comments from Senators, and reporting about the negotiations to go off of right now since the text of the bill isn’t out yet. But what we have gives us some insight into the issues at play.
Analysis: Guns Are Normal and Normal People Use Guns
By David Yamane
As I hope to write regularly for The Reload, I thought my first contribution ought to say something about how I generally approach American gun culture, which bears on the fierce debates over guns taking place across the country.
I am a sociologist who has been studying American gun culture for the past decade. My approach to the topic differs considerably from most of my gun studies colleagues. Rather than focusing on crime, injury, and death with firearms, my work is based on the proposition that guns are normal and normal people use guns. This is not an article of faith or belief statement for me; rather, it is based on my empirical observations of guns and gun owners.
When I say guns are normal and normal people use guns, I mean it in two senses. First, guns and gun ownership are common, widespread, and typical. Second, guns and gun ownership are not inherently associated with deviance or abnormalities.
In the aftermath of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, state officials appear to be leaning on existing laws to help prevent future attacks.
Governor Greg Abbott (R.) sent a letter on Tuesday to the Texas District & Country Attorneys Association urging them to utilize the state’s new “lie-and-try” law to prosecute criminals who attempt to buy guns. The law makes it a state felony to falsify information on a gun purchase background check form.
“Texas is committed to keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people who cannot lawfully possess them,” the letter reads. “The tragic shooting in Uvalde compels us to redouble those efforts. Government officials have a duty to make Texans safer by enforcing the laws that are already on the books. Recent legislation has added a new tool to the Texas prosecutor’s toolbox, and all district and county attorneys should put it to good use.”
Since the 1980s, the right of law-abiding citizens to carry has expanded tremendously. Before then, only a handful of states permitted carrying firearms by regular citizens. But with Florida becoming by far the largest state expanding the right to carry in 1987, a media firestorm ensued. Gun-control activists insisted that the state would devolve into a sort of “wild west.”
So, did Florida come apart at the seams with every disagreement turning into the O.K. Corral? Not at all, according to the data. Florida’s homicide rate actually fell following the passage of its “shall-issue” gun-carry law. In 1987, it had 11.4 murders per 100,000 people. But, by the start of the new century, the rate had been cut to 5.6 per 100,000.
Podcast: Punchbowl’s John Bresnahan on Senate Gun Talks
By Stephen Gutowski
This week we have one of the top Capitol Hill reporters on the podcast.
The House passed a package of gun-control bills and bipartisan discussions in the Senate have been making progress towards a deal. So, I wanted to bring on Punchbowl Co-Founder John Bresnahan to give us a breakdown of where this is all really headed. Bresnahan has been reporting on the Hill for as long as anybody, and nobody else has a better view of what’s going on.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss New York’s new gun laws and the foiled plot by a gun-control advocate to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.
Video of the full episode is also available on our YouTube channel.
Analysis: The Era of ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans is Over
By Stephen Gutowski
There will not be a new federal “assault weapons” ban this year. Or any year in the near future.
It’s not simply because of Senate Republican opposition either. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives won’t pass one. It hasn’t even tried to since the party took control in 2018.
In fact, there hasn’t been a new assault weapons ban in 25 years. Only seven states and the District of Columbia have a ban in place at all. Some of those states, including New York and California, have tightened their prohibitions in recent years. But no state has passed a new ban in recent history.
Gun-control advocates haven’t given up on pushing the policy, though. And some top Democrats, including Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke and Vice President Kamala Harris, have even advocated coupling a sales ban with a mandatory buyback.
But the hill to climb for successfully passing a new ban has just gotten steeper.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.