This week, there was a significant push for a gun policy that crossed party lines.
It is actually directly related to the last big bipartisan gun push. Related in the sense that it’s trying to fix an apparently unintended consequence of that bill. A group of nearly two dozen senators lobbied the Department of Education to change its interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act because it has led to the defunding of hunter safety training at schools nationwide.
As I explain in a member-exclusive piece, the pair of letters sent by the senators represents the first real cross-party agreement on guns since last year.
What the political parties are unlikely to agree on, though, is the latest news surrounding Hunter Biden’s brief tenure as a gun owner. The Special Counsel assigned to his case announced this week they will be filing charges against him related to his purchase and possession of a gun while being a drug user.
Boston was also back in the news this week. It’s being accused, once again, of slow-walking gun-carry permit applications. It lost on this point once before and had to pay the legal fees of gun-rights activists. There’s not much reason to think this time will turn out any different.
And I do a deep dive into President Biden’s latest gun action, which seeks to expand who would have to obtain a federal license to legally sell used guns. Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms joins the podcast to dissect the new rule.
Bipartisan Group of Senators Demand Biden Restore Hunting, Archery Funding
By Stephen Gutowski
18 senators, including eight Democrats and one Independent, want funding for hunter safety training in schools to be reinstated.
The bipartisan group sent a letter to the Biden Administration on Tuesday demanding it reverse course on efforts to deny federal dollars to the school programs. The senators argued that the administration is misreading the changes most voted for in last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA).
“Unfortunately, and contrary to Congressional intent, the Department of Education (“the Department”) has misinterpreted the language to exclude certain educational activities from receiving federal resources,” the group said.
Analysis: The Politics of the Hunter Safety Funding Mess [Member Exclusive]
By Stephen Gutowski
Last year, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act showed where there was agreement among the parties over gun policy. This year, backlash to part of its implementation is doing the same thing.
On Tuesday, a group of senators shot off a pair of letters in hopes of reviving funding for hunter safety training programs at schools across the country. It is the only gun policy effort to see significant support from both sides of the aisle. All said, 21 senators who backed the BSCA joined in the effort to undo its effect on hunting programs–including the two who negotiated the bill. A dozen of them are Democrats.
Many involved either play a prominent role on firearms policy for their respective parties, such as John Cornyn (R., Texas) and Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), or they represent key swing states. The entire Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Arizona delegations were on board. As were Senators from New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
That level of cooperation on any gun policy provides a strong signal of the political calculations at play. Here, that signal is clear: the federally funded school programs providing hunter safety and archery training enjoyed by millions of students nationwide are quite popular. Cutting off their funding is not.
Hunter Biden to Face Federal Gun Charges
By Stephen Gutowski
President Joe Biden’s son will be indicted on gun charges stemming from his drug use.
Special Counsel David Weiss said on Wednesday his office intends to file charges against Hunter Biden before the end of the month. He referenced potential violations of federal law for both lying on the background check Hunter completed to obtain a gun and his possession of it while allegedly using crack cocaine.
“The Speedy Trial Act requires that the Government obtain the return of an indictment by a grand jury by Friday, September 29, 2023, at the earliest. The Government intends to seek the return of an indictment in this case before that date,” Weiss’s office wrote in a court filing.
Massachusetts’ largest city finds itself in the crosshairs of gun-rights advocates once more over its handling of firearms license applications.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), and Commonwealth Second Amendment filed suit against Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox on Friday. The complaint, filed on behalf of four Boston residents seeking gun-carry permits, alleges that the Boston Police Department has once again implemented “substantial and untenable delays” in gun license processing.
“Previously, in 2020 and 2021, the Licensing Unit made individuals seeking licenses wait for months on a ‘wait list’ before they could submit applications—a practice it abandoned in response to a prior lawsuit by some of the Plaintiffs here,” they wrote in White v. Cox. “Now, the Licensing Unit is accepting individuals’ license applications without significant delay, but is making them wait for many months to submit samples of their fingerprints. Thus, while it has purportedly abandoned its use of a ‘wait list’ to submit applications, the Licensing Unit is still using the equivalent of a ‘wait list’ to prevent people from completing the application process.”
This week, President Joe Biden announced new executive action aimed at tightening gun laws.
This time, he wants to expand who must get a license to legally sell used guns. So, I brought back Bearing Arms editor Cam Edwards to review the ATF’s proposed rule.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about how Tennessee shows “red flag” laws have hit a political ceiling.
President Joe Biden tripled down on using the ATF to try and tighten America’s gun restrictions. His first two tries have faired poorly. Will the latest do any better?
On Thursday, the Biden Administration announced a new ATF rule proposal. This time, the administration is targeting used gun sales. It aims to force more Americans to obtain federal licenses to deal guns or face fines and jail time.
In August 2022, President Biden unilaterally banned “ghost gun” kits. By July 2023, it was stuck down by a federal court. It remains in effect thanks to an emergency stay issued by the Supreme Court, but the rule is facing an uphill legal battle.
In January 2023, the Biden Administration reclassified pistol-brace-equipped guns to make them illegal to own unless registered with the ATF. Only a tiny percentage of Americans complied despite the agency waiving the tax associated with registration. By August 2023, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel found the rule unlawful.
There’s also the bump stock ban. Former President Donald Trump implemented that, but it was defended in court by the Biden Administration. Unsuccessfully, it should be noted. By April 2023, two federal appeals courts had found it unconstitutional.
These rulings all followed the same basic logic. The ATF exceeded its authority under the law, and it was too inconsistent in applying the law to expect regular citizens to understand and be held to the rules it tried to enact.
The new gun dealer rule is likely vulnerable to the same line of legal attack.
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Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.