Newsletter: Exclusive Updates on Republicans’ Efforts to Block Biden Gun Actions, and Biden’s ATF Nominee Hangs in Limbo

This week, we have several exclusives on how Republicans are trying to block President Joe Biden’s efforts to sidestep Congress and institute new gun restrictions through executive action. In my latest piece, I broke that the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding answers from the ATF on the proposal to ban millions of pistol-braced guns. That comes after I reported yesterday that 37 Republicans signed on to a letter asking the administration to rescind its “ghost gun” proposal

And those two stories follow my report from earlier this week on Capitol Hill sources saying several Democratic senators are still holding back their support of President Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman. Senator Pat Toomey’s subsequent announcement he won’t vote for Chipman emphasizes just how precarious the nominee’s position is now. But, while his confirmation vote won’t be held this week, the fight over his nomination is far from over.

We also saw a big legal decision on handgun ownership for young adults, a great podcast on guns and race with Rangemaster’s Tiffany Johnson, and a gun defense story out of San Francisco. That last one even features a Rice-a-Roni joke. So, that’s one you won’t want to skip.

A disable shooter holds a pistol-brace equipped AR-15
Disabled veteran Omar “Crispy” Avila holds an AR-15 equipped with a pistol brace / Richard King

Exclusive: House Judiciary Committee Republicans Demand Answers From ATF on Pistol Brace Ban

House Republicans are turning up the heat on the ATF over its proposal to ban and register millions of pistol braces.

All 19 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee signed a letter to the agency on Friday asking a series of questions on the proposal’s details, according to a copy obtained by The Reload. The group is demanding to know how the proposal was conceived, who wrote it, and if outside agencies worked on it. The lawmakers are giving the ATF until the end of the month to answer those questions.

“ATF’s regulatory notice is deeply flawed, beyond the scope of its authority, contrary to years of previous ATF opinions, and harmful to millions of law-abiding American firearm owners,” the members said in the letter. “We therefore write to request information about the Biden Administration’s flagrant effort to restrict Americans’ fundamental Second Amendment rights.”

Click here to read the full story.

An unfinished AR-15 lower receiver
An unfinished AR-15 lower receiver / PB Firearms

Exclusive: 37 Republicans Call on Biden Admin to Rescind ‘Ghost Gun’ Proposal

A group of Republican representatives hopes to block the ATF from gaining “extraordinary power over the firearm industry.”

Thirty-seven House members sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the ATF Thursday requesting the agencies rescind a proposed rule expanding the definition of what constitutes a firearm. The representatives argue the rule, which targets so-called ghost guns, is overly broad and pushes beyond the boundaries of the ATF’s authority.

“This proposed rule is alarming and would give the ATF extraordinary power over the firearm industry,” the Republicans said in the letter. “The proposed rule exceeds the ATF’s congressionally granted authority by creating definitions for terms and concepts that do not appear anywhere in the statute.”

Read the full story here.

Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) gives a speech on the floor of the Senate March 3, 2021
Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) gives a speech on the floor of the Senate March 3, 2021 / Screenshot

Toomey Says No to Biden’s ATF Nominee

The uphill battle to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick to regulate the gun industry just got steeper.

Senator Pat Toomey announced on Thursday he would not vote to confirm David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The Pennsylvania Republican said Chipman’s support for strict new gun laws, including bans on popular firearms such as the AR-15, would be detrimental to his ability to run the agency.

“While I respect David Chipman’s nearly 25 years of experience as an ATF agent, I fear that his subsequent vocal support for policies that limit the rights of law-abiding gun owners and his past criticisms of those in the firearm industry would compromise his ability to carry out ATF’s mission effectively,” Toomey said in a statement. “As such, I am unable to support his nomination to lead the ATF.”

Click here to read the whole story.

The Capitol Building partially obscured by trees
The Capitol Building partially obscured by trees / Stephen Gutowski

Biden ATF Nominee Still in Limbo, Confirmation Vote Unlikely This Week

President Joe Biden’s pick to head the ATF is facing new uncertainty as Congress returns from recess.

ATF director nominee David Chipman received a tie vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee shortly before Congress went on recess. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) could discharge Chipman to the floor for a full vote, but multiple sources on Capitol Hill said he is unlikely to do so this week as senators get back to work. Senators Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.), Angus King (I., Maine), Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) remain on the fence.

“They don’t currently have the votes,” a Senate staffer with knowledge of the situation told The Reload. “Manchin, King, Hassan, and Tester. They’re all terrified of this vote. So, there are no current plans to bring him up.”

A second staffer from another Republican office agreed the vote is unlikely to happen this week or anytime before Schumer knows he has the 50 votes necessary to confirm Chipman.

“I’m hearing that some of the Dems aren’t thrilled about him,” the staffer said. “[Schumer] won’t move without the votes unless he’s foolish.”

Click here to read more.

Handguns for sale at a Virginia gun store
Handguns for sale at a Virginia gun store / Stephen Gutowski

Federal Court Declares Handgun Ban for Adults Under 21 Unconstitutional

Young adults may soon be able to legally buy handguns once again.

A three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday the Second Amendment protects the rights of 18- to 20-year-olds to buy handguns. It struck down federal laws that prohibited licensed dealers from selling to young adults. In a two-to-one vote, the court found the federal restriction did not stand up to scrutiny.

“Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 18,” Judge Julius N. Richardson wrote for the court, with Judge G. Steven Agee concurring. “And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.”

Read more by clicking here.

Podcast: Tiffany Johnson on Reaching Black Gun Owners, and a New Gun Sales Trend Emerges

This episode, I talk to Rangemaster’s Tiffany Johnson about her new effort to train instructors in being more approachable for minority customers. Tiffany is a lawyer and legal researcher who took up an interest in firearms after her best friend was murdered. In recent years, she has dedicated much of her time to training others in self-defense tactics and educating instructors on how to better appeal to gun owners outside the demographic they’ve traditionally dealt with.

We get into how the gun industry has adjusted to the influx of black gun owners over the past year and what more can be done. Tiffany provides a unique point of view that left me better informed, and I think a lot of people will find value in it too.

Click here to listen to the full podcast or find it on your favorite podcasting app! Members get early access to the podcast. Buy a membership to get this week’s episode featuring Duke University’s Jake Charles before everyone else!

trees in front of houses
Photo by Ross Joyner on Unsplash

66-Year-Old Armed San Franciscan Wards Off Home Intruder

A San Francisco man did not receive the treat he may have been expecting when he broke into an apartment on Friday.

Instead, after climbing through a kitchen window, he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun. On the other end was the 66-year-old resident. The burglar initially attempted to flee but then reversed course and turned towards the armed resident, who then fired a shot.

The shot did not hit the burglar, but it caused him to run down the nearest stairs. The armed resident was able to apprehend the burglar and hold him at gunpoint until help arrived, according to a press release from the San Francisco Police Department.

Click here to read more.

Outside The Reload

‘Fear on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of new gun owners | Washington Post | By Marc Fisher, Miranda Green, Kelly Glass, and Andrea Eger 

Leak Shows ATF Preparing Operation Targeting Smith & Wesson and Others | Ammoland | By John Crump

Biden wants to tackle gun violence. But his firearms nominee is stuck in limbo. | Politico | By Marianne Levine and Nicholas Wu

Biden’s ATF Pick, David Chipman, Faces Uncertainty in Senate | Wall Street Journal | By Julie Bykowicz and Kristina Peterson

A 22-Year-Old Lawsuit May Generate Unprecedented Access to Gun Industry Secrets | The Trace | By Champe Barton

Were Strong Gun Sales to Blame for 2020’s Violence? | City Journal | By Robert VerBruggen

The Reload in Media

This week, I spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal about how the increase in gun sales in Pennsylvania is not driving the increase in murder. Fox News also highlighted my member-exclusive post on the same trend at the national level.

Fox also covered my response to some particularly absurd arguments about the meaning of the Second Amendment. There is a lot of debate and discussion to be had about the limits of the amendment’s protections, but I can’t suffer arguments against the very plain meaning of the text. Especially when they take it to extremes such as “keep isn’t synonymous with own.” I mean, give me a break.

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear my analysis of why these were the most important stories and how they may impact you, make sure you buy a Reload membership to get the exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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