OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch led a group of nine Democrats to introduce legislation to amend the National Firearms Act to include “any semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine” like the AR-15 platform, requiring owners to be put on a federal registry.
Under H.R. 4953, the federal registry will force AR-15 and other semi-automatic rifle owners to submit their fingerprints, photos, and notify law enforcement officers of their ownership of their firearms.
Furthermore, the amendment adds a nine-month waiting period for approval and a $200 tax, all in accordance with preexisting National Firearms Act requirements.
The move to reclassify the AR-15 under the NFA follows Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ position on semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.
On the official Biden-Harris website, “Biden plan to end our gun violence epidemic” page, the Biden administration says it supports reclassifying the firearm under the NFA, and that Biden would like to reduce stockpiling of weapons and restrict the number of firearms any American can purchase to once a month, among other measures.
It reads as follows:
Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.
Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.
Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.
The bill comes amid gun control advocate David Chipman’s struggles to be confirmed as the new head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), whose name was put forward by President Joe Biden.
The retired ATF agent, who was present at the deadly Waco incident in 1993, has struggled to make inroads with Republican politicians who continue to scrutinize him for statements he made on social media that amounted to calls to enact more gun control, according to NBC News.
“To me, if you want to have a weapon of war, the same gun that was issued to me as a member of [the] ATF SWAT team, it makes sense that you would have to pass a background check, the gun would have to be in your name, and there would be a picture and fingerprints on file,” Chipman said.
“To me, I don’t mind doing it if I want to buy a gun. These policies just protect the criminal. Like, I don’t think you should be able to anonymously purchase 20 AR-15s at one time, and the government shouldn’t know,” he added. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all that you have to pass a background check to own a weapon of war.”
Republican House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed back against Chipman’s nomination and urged Biden to put a different nominee up for consideration.
“The Senate has spent quite enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination. The American people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the ATF. … It is time the Biden administration revisit this decision and send us somebody who fits that description,” McConnell said, per The Hill.