Biden’s Gun Control Plan Explained [2021]

by Ryan Cleckner

January 6, 2021

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Joe Biden’s gun control plan is exhaustive – it effectively includes every gun control measure ever implemented or proposed in America.

It might not be clear, however, even after reading through all 3,472 words of his proposal, exactly what forms of gun control he’d like to implement, what items or activities would be banned, or even what this would mean for the average gun owner.

For example, “assault weapons” are referenced in the Biden gun control plan multiple times without defining the term and different sections refer to banning them, but allowing possession in certain instances, and even taxation plans. Because of this, we attempt to paint a clear picture here of what to expect and consolidate the various topics and elements into categories that are easy to follow.

For each of the sections below, we’ll address a plain-language summary of the element, what it means to the average gun owner, and provide commentary on what we think.

It looks like his plan is already in effect as we now know what the Assault Weapon Ban of 2021 includes.

Elements of the Biden Gun Control Plan:

“Assault Weapon” and “High Capacity” Ban, Registration, and Buyback

Summary: Biden plans to ban the manufacture and sale of “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” and require their registration under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and requiring a federal tax of $200 per item. Although it is unclear what Biden considers an “assault weapon” (see below), we can assume that this at least means all semi-auto rifles that can accept a detachable magazine. We doubt he’d allow for “compliant” AR-15 style rifles with certain features missing because of his commentary below.

What it means for you: You will no longer be able to purchase any new AR-15 style, AK-style, any other semi-auto rifle with a detachable magazine, or any magazine for any firearm that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. If you already possess one of these so-called “assault rifles” or “high capacity magazines” you’ll either need to register it as an NFA firearm (like a machine gun or silencer) and pay a $200 tax per magazine AND per firearm. Or, you may surrender the magazines and firearms to the government in exchange for some money. So, count up every magazine you possess with an over 10 round capacity and every firearm that could be considered an “assault weapon” in the STRICTEST definition possible and multiple that number by $200. Also, realize that if you don’t already have it, you won’t be able to get any more.

Why this is a bad idea: This will do nothing to reduce violent crime and seriously impede on our Second Amendment protection. So called “assault weapons” are rarely used in violent crime (less than hammers) and arbitrarily limiting a certain number of rounds is absurd (especially in light of violent riots and multiple attackers where multiple rounds can be required to defend oneself). We dive into each of these topics a bit more below. If you’d like to skip the discussion and go straight to the next section of Biden’s gun control proposal, you can jump to Online Firearm and Ammunition Sales Ban.

Assault Weapon Ban

Although it is unclear precisely what Biden considers an “assault weapon,” we know that his definition is at least as inclusive as the 1994 Clinton Assault Weapon Ban (AWB).

Biden calls assault weapons “weapons of war” and his proposal explains that the 1994 AWB was not enough because it was, in part, features-based and allowed manufacturers to make versions of rifles like AR-15s with certain features missing which allowed them to be exempted from the 1994 AWB. Therefore, Biden will do what he can to ban everything banned by the 1994 AWB and much more. In a more recent statement by the Biden team on “assault weapons,” they make the claim that the Clinton-era “assault weapon” ban saved lives because these so-called “assault weapons” are more dangerous in, or even perhaps to blame for, mass shootings.

According to the source they cited for their stats, the anti-gun group, Everytown Against Gun violence, admits that “assault weapons” are only used in 17% of the mass shootings they studied.

Let’s get this straight now: mass shootings, as well as any murder, are horrible and we should do what we can to prevent them.

The number one method to stopping or preventing a mass shooting is armed people. It is no secret that almost every single mass shooting happens where guns are specifically banned (murderers prefer unarmed victims) and mass shooters stopped when they are confronted by a good guy with a gun.

To us, it seems obvious that something that prevents and stops mass shootings (more armed people) should be something worth pursuing. However, these groups are so set on taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, that they’d rather focus instead on a type of firearm that is used in less than one fifth of mass shootings.

It doesn’t seem like a good place to us to start.

The anti-gunners also admit in their research that “many” of the mass shooters were already prohibited by law from possessing firearms. I may never understand how the laws against murder, was shootings, possessing firearms in a gun free zone, and even illegal firearms possession laws don’t work yet they think that adding another law will. Instead, I point you to MANY studies that have concluded that the Clinton-era “assault weapon” ban, which Biden proposes to reinstate (and much more), had no effect on violent crime and also that a new ban would have little to no effect on crime. Indeed, even the New York Times agrees that “assault weapon bans” do not have an effect on crime.

It only takes a quick look to the FBI Violent crime stats to see that more people are killed every year with hammers than any type of rifle, let alone the sub-category of rifles these anti-gunners call “assault rifles.”

High Capacity Magazine Ban

Biden believes that Americans should not be able to defend themselves with a firearm magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

This is arbitrary and dangerous.

It is not the job of our government to determine how many rounds of ammunition you’ll need to defense yourself against and unknown number of attackers. If law enforcement can carry more than 10 rounds in their magazines because of their encounters with potentially violent criminals, then every citizen, who doesn’t have backup and who encounters the violent criminals before the police and while the violent act is occurring/starts, should have an equal chance at surviving.

As if the proposal isn’t bad enough, Biden (who are we kidding, a DNC staffer speaking for Biden) makes an absurd and disgusting comparison involving hunting and children:

“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. …”

[from Biden’s gun control proposal]

Yep, that’s right… Biden makes a comparison that there’s a 3-round limit in shotguns when hunting ducks and, because there’s no current federal magazine capacity limit for AR-15 magazines, that ducks are protected more than children.

If it wasn’t so horrible of an analogy, it would be laughable on many levels:

  1. First, the shotguns are limited in their capacity for ducks ONLY when hunting ducks. When not actively hunting, shotguns do not have a capacity limit. This comparison presumes that Biden thinks AR-15s are for hunting children and therefore should have their capacity limited at all times. Wow.
  2. Second, duck hunting is…well, you know… hunting and perfectly legal. When children are involved, it is MURDER and illegal regardless of a magazine’s capacity.
  3. Third, if we suspend logic and pretend that Biden’s analogy makes sense and is valid, then this example still fails.

Here’s an important point – Biden proposes to limit an AR-15s magazine capacity to 10 rounds. This means that he still proposes that an AR-15 should have over 3 times the capacity as a shotgun while duck hunting. Ugh.

Assault Weapon and High Capacity Magazine Registration

Currently, a special class of firearms, commonly referred to as “NFA firearms” or “Title II firearms,” are specially controlled under federal law and require ATF approval and registration prior to changing possession and the payment of a transfer tax of $200 for most items.

These firearms are silencers, machine guns, short barreled rifles and more.

In addition to banning all new “assault weapons” (above), he also proposes that all currently owned “assault weapons” be registered with the federal government and the $200 tax be paid per firearm.

Registration is the first step before confiscation and the tax could be overly burdensome for many gun and magazine owners.

Online Firearm and Ammunition Sales Ban

Summary: Biden proposes to ban the online sale of all firearms and ammunition.

What this means for you: You will only be able to purchase firearms and ammunition at your local gun store. Although this will be great for small businesses and our network of FFL dealers, it will prevent all the benefits of e-commerce (finding rare items and the best deals). This would allow for future requirements on limits of ammo or even background checks or permits to purchase ammo like some states already require and can control with in-person only ammo sales.

Why this is a bad idea: If you didn’t already know, it is perfectly legal under federal law to buy firearms online. And, it should be. Why? Well, a legal product or industry should not be discriminated against and prevented from the befits of e-commerce (especially a product who’s ownership is protected by the Constitution).

THERE IS NO ONLINE SALES LOOPHOLE. All firearm sales, whether conducted online or in person follow the laws. If you purchase a firearm online from a dealer or from out of state, you must have it shipped to a local Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) for a transfer to you. By banning online sales, Biden will limit the availability of firearms for purchasers and will prevent them from finding the best price. This hurts people looking to exercise a right. Likewise, ammunition sales online are perfectly legal under federal law. Stopping it is absurd.

Limit Purchases to 1 Gun Per Month

Summary: Biden’s gun control plan includes limiting the number of firearms a person can purchase to one firearm per month.

What this means for you: If you purchase a firearm, you’ll need to wait 30 days until you can legally purchase another firearm.

Why this is a bad idea: This could be said for all gun control measures, however, it is very easy to illustrate here: this will do nothing to reduce violence and only infringe on American’s rights. There is ZERO proof that limiting purchases to only one firearm per month would have any effect on saving lives.

Criminals often already obtain firearms illegally so this will have no effect on them. And those that purchased firearms legally who later became a criminal would not be affected nor stopped. Instead, there will be much more burden on the ATF and local law enforcement to track this, more burden on firearms dealers and the industry, and more burden on purchasers.

It’s an extreme case, but imagine the following: a victim of domestic abuse purchases a firearm to protect herself. But, the next week, she either needs to flee her home or the abuser leaves and takes the firearm with him. She would be left disarmed and defenseless against her abuser with a firearm until an arbitrary 3 weeks passes until she can legally get another firearm.

Make Manufacturers and Dealers Liable for Criminal Misuse of Firearms

Summary: Biden wants to allow people to sue firearm and ammunition manufactures and dealers for the criminal misuse of their products.

What this means for you: This means much more expensive firearms and ammo and likely less options for manufacturers and dealers. Gun and ammo dealers and manufactures will likely go out of business if they are sued for the criminal misuse of their products.

Why this is a bad idea: Ford should not be liable if a drunk driver uses a Ford vehicle to hurt someone. Likewise, a firearm manufacturer should not be liable for the criminal misuse of their product.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, and in particular my former boss Larry Keane, was instrumental in getting the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed. This law insulates the firearms industry from lawsuits as long as the manufacturer and/or dealer were not negligent in their actions taken when selling the firearm. Biden proposes to undo this protection and therefore open up every company in the chain of commerce for a criminal’s actions.

If this isn’t absurd to you, should Apple be liable for the iPhone technology that a mass shooter used to plan their route? Should Ford be liable for making the car the shooter used? Should Visa be liable to processing the ammo purchase? Should a kitchen knife manufacturer be sued because a criminal uses their knife to stab someone?

Expanding Background Checks

Summary: Background checks would be required for all changes in possession of firearms. Also, the government will have 10 days until they need to respond to a background check and could therefore delay a purchase through inaction.

What this means for you: If the government, through government bureaucracy and/or inefficiency (shhhhhhocking) or any other reason, does not respond to your background check inquiry to purchase a firearm, you would be denied access to the firearm until they decide to respond. Currently, after 3 days of no response you can have your firearm. This proposes to make it 10 days.

Also, you couldn’t loan a firearm to a family member or friend to borrow without going to a gun shop, paying a transfer fee, and waiting to have it officially transferred to them (which could take days or longer… see above)

Why it’s a bad idea: On its face, expanding background checks sounds like an idea that we can all get behind. After all, nobody abhors the criminal misuse of firearms more than law-abiding gun owners. However, requiring “universal background checks,” which Biden proposes, would make criminals out of friends or family members loaning a firearm. And again, this would do nothing to prevent any mass shooting we’ve ever experienced. In some cases, an answer from a background check does not come for days.

If someone is in need of a firearm for self defense, they should not be delayed due to the government failing to get an answer about their background. Currently, if a background check response does not come back within 3 days, the firearm may be transferred. Biden proposes extending the timeline to 10 days.

Ban guns for those convicted of “hate crimes”

Summary: Biden’s gun control proposal includes banning firearms for anyone convicted of a “hate crime” which, according to some Democrats, includes speech.

What this means for you: If you say the “wrong” thing online or to someone’s face, you might be convicted of a hate crime and lose the ability to lawfully possess a firearm.

Why it’s a bad idea: This is another proposal that sounds good on its face, however, the low threshold for what is considered a “hate crime” could prevent the lawful possession of firearms by someone who otherwise should be allowed to defend themselves. There is a dangerous line between someone’s free speech and removing their right to bear arms. This ban would cross that line.

Also, for every one of this arguments, let’s not forget that it will do NOTHING to keep an actual criminal intent on causing someone harm from possessing a firearm. In this example, if there was someone committing true crimes of violence as hate crimes, then a simple ban on their possession of firearms would do no more to stop them than the laws that prevented their prior/current violent attacks.

Expand Red Flag Laws

Summary: The Biden/Harris administration wants to give law enforcement the ability to take away a person’s firearms based on a tip or complaint from a 3rd party alleging that the person is a threat to others.

What this means for you: You are at risk of having your firearms seized, or worse, having yourself of a family member (or pet) injured during a police raid, if anyone alleges that you are a threat, even if their tip is false.

Why it’s a bad idea: Expanding “Red Flag” laws opens up gun control to abuse and removes a fundamental component of American law: due process. With Red Flag laws, someone could make up a lie about someone else and have their firearms removed without them ever have done anything wrong.

This is similar to “swatting” wherein a fake 911 call is made to hurt an enemy by sending the police to their homes. Red flag laws can be abused to harass people and also disarm victims before an attack. If a person is dangerous enough to not have access to firearms, then they should have due process before a fundamental right is removed.

Encourage Firearm License Requirements

Summary: Biden proposes to push states to require licenses for firearm ownership.

What this means for you: Your state may enact a requirement wherein you are required to obtain a license in order to possess or purchase firearms. The license requirements may include training, fees, local approval, and waiting periods for processing/approval.

What we think: This is a clear infringement on our right to keep and bear arms. If the government must give you permission before you can exercise a right, then you do not have a right. A government entity can easily make the requirements too burdensome to accomplish, the cost too high for many to afford, or delay the issuance of permits. All of these examples cause unnecessary delays and restrictions.

Require Secured Firearms

Summary: Biden’s gun control proposal includes a requirement that all firearms are “securely” stored.

What this means for you: If enacted, you may be required to buy safe(s) for each firearm and you may be penalized or liable for any firearm not stored according to the enacted standards.

Why this is a bad idea: We strongly believe that firearms should be secured away from access by children or adults who should not have access to firearms when not in your direct control. However, requiring this by law is inappropriate.

There are cost and practicality issues in many instances that would make this burdensome for many people. If you’re looking for a gun safe, we recommend some here: best handgun safes Biden also proposes to hold adults accountable for negligently allowing a child to have access to a firearm. This is the ONE proposal he has that we could get behind, however, it is unclear what “negligent” means in this case.

Require Lost/Stolen Firearm Reporting

Summary: Biden proposes to require reports to law enforcement of lost or stolen firearms.

What this means for you: If you lose a firearm or have it stolen from you, you will have to report the firearm’s absence to law enforcement within a certain time frame after the firearm is missing and keep a copy of the report.

Why this is a bad idea: If a firearm is lost or stolen, you should immediately report it to law enforcement and keep a copy of proof of your report. However, in some cases, someone may not know if a firearm is missing until some time after. If it was a law that you must report a missing firearm or face legal consequences, your missing firearm could be used in a crime and you could be in trouble for not knowing it was missing.

Ban Home-made Firearms

Summary: The gun control plan proposed by Biden would bad home-made firearms.

What this means for you: You no longer would e allowed to assemble firearms at home.

Why this is a bad idea: Under federal law it is perfectly legal to build your own firearm as long as you are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm. Often a kit is purchased which includes parts that are not considered a firearm where the purchaser can complete some work to finish the parts and turn them into a legal firearm.

Banning such kits would either ban parts which should not be considered firearms or it will ban non-firearm widgets – a clear slippery slope. These home-made guns are sometimes called “ghost guns” and banning them is top priority for Biden. Again, these are not used in crimes and this will do nothing to limit violence.

Stop Federal Funds for Firearm Training for Teachers

Summary: Currently, federal funds are available to train teachers in firearm safety. Biden’s gun control proposal would stop this.

What this means for you: Untrained teachers and unprotected school children.

Why this is a bad idea: If Biden is elected and gets his way, he will stop federal funds from being used to train teachers in the safe and effective use of firearms to protect their students. No teacher is ever forced to carry a firearm. However, if they choose to do so to protect themselves and their students, they should not be denied the ability. Additionally, they should not have training withheld.

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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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