Submitted by Gun Owners of America,
Brace yourself: Joe Biden has unilaterally created new crimes, and on June 1st, his latest effort to criminalize a large swath of America’s law-abiding gun owners took effect.
That’s right, Biden’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has made the simple act of owning a pistol braced firearm a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, should the many disabled veterans and millions of other gun owners who use them fail to register with the ATF or dispose of their previously lawfully-owned accessory.
It is the ATF, after all, that had made clear in written opinions over the past decade (going back to the Obama-Biden Administration), that the braces in question were not in violation of federal law.
While this is yet another attack on the Second Amendment, even more damning, this tyrannical monstrosity is an attack on the rest of the Constitution as well. After all, Congress makes laws, not the President, so let’s return to first principles.
More than 800 years ago, the Magna Carta put into writing for the first time the principle that the king and his government were not above the law, placing limits on royal authority by establishing that “no free man shall be seized [or] imprisoned…except by the lawful judgement of his peers and the law of the land.”
And who makes that law? More than 300 years ago, John Locke, our Founding Fathers’ single most important muse, said flat-out that legislative power is “sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it; nor can any edict of anybody else…have the force and obligation of a law.”
More specifically, over 250 years ago, Montesquieu – perhaps the Founding Fathers’ favorite Frenchman – argued, “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty.”
These aren’t philosophical fancies. They’re the foundation of our Constitution. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” wrote in Federalist 47, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
Thus, at its beginning – literally, Article I, Section 1 – the Constitution reads, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
Now, that’s not to say all Presidents have respected the Constitution, or this bedrock principle going back nearly a millennium.
For instance, the increasingly infamous Andrew Jackson reversed prior presidents’ tradition of executive deference to legislative supremacy, earning himself the epithet “King Andrew.”
The racist Woodrow Wilson, a critic of the congressional government, explicitly argued Congress should delegate its legislative powers to the executive branch.
In more recent times, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” was the leading mantra, with Barack Obama lashing out in reaction to the American people overwhelmingly rejecting at the ballot box his first two years in office. Subsequently, he went on to unilaterally give legal status to illegal aliens after previously saying on 22 occasions that he did not have that power.
Additionally, it’s not always the Democrats in the White House that are going beyond the bounds of the law, though sometimes it seems that way.
For his part, President Trump banned bump stocks by executive action, clearing the way for Biden’s even more aggressive attacks on the Second Amendment, including the ban on pistol braces.
Gun Owners of America is fighting this abuse of power, and thankfully, a federal judge in Texas granted us and our members relief the evening before the rule took effect (June 1st).
In Congress, GOA has been urging the leadership to bring up for a vote H.J. Res. 44, which uses Congress’s authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify executive overreach.
Thankfully, a vote this week has finally been scheduled, but the fact that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy refused to hold a vote for weeks – and even allegedly tried to trade votes on the debt bill in exchange for moving this resolution – validates the concerns the block of conservative Republicans had back in January when they refused to coronate him as the new leader.
We are, of course, not naïve enough to think that politicians on the national scene respect the Constitution or their oath to defend it.
But if sacrificing the Constitution and the Separation of Powers on the altar of gun control isn’t enough to get every member of Congress to oppose the Biden rule, the Left should remember that this is a two-edged sword.
Biden’s party would do well to recall Donald Trump funding his “big, beautiful wall” by unilaterally reallocating military construction funds, after which Democrats sued him for violating Congressional control over the nation’s purse strings.
Democrats would also do well to remember their former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who first pressed the red button on the “nuclear option” to force through federal judges — ultimately clearing the way for Republicans to gain six votes on the Supreme Court using the same tactic, leading to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
After all, if King Biden can create crimes, so can President Trump or DeSantis. How about a 10-year prison sentence for surgically removing a child’s sex organs? How about making it a crime to force parents to vaccinate kids? How about imprisoning prosecutors for setting violent murderers free to murder again? How about federal sentences for teachers exposing preschoolers to porn?
How about putting federal officials in prison for confiscating firearms?
Ultimately, Biden’s pistol brace ban isn’t just about guns. It’s about the rule of law.
If King Biden succeeds in criminalizing pistol braces — brace yourself.
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John Velleco is currently the executive vice president for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with more than 2 million members and supporters nationwide.