President Biden’s recent announcement to ban “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines continues to raise questions about the constitutionality of such a ban. Biden made his latest gun-banning announcement at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday night, stating that he plans to implement the ban “come hell or high water.” However, recent Supreme Court precedent calls into question the legality of such a move.
In his State of the Union address last month, Biden claimed that a previous assault weapon ban, in effect from 1994 to 2004, reduced mass shootings. However, data from the Marshall Project suggests that mass shootings increased during every five-year period when the ban was partly or totally in effect. Furthermore, the RAND Corporation found inconclusive evidence for the impact of assault weapon bans on mass shootings.
Recent Supreme Court precedent casts doubt on the constitutionality of Biden’s proposed ban. In July 2022, the Supreme Court vacated a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding Maryland’s state-level assault weapon ban.
The Supreme Court insisted that the case must receive “further consideration in light of New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen.” This case rejected “interest-balancing” as sufficient to override Second Amendment rights, which should make lower courts take Americans’ rights to possess arms more seriously than they have in the past decade and a half.
Biden’s proposed ban also raises concerns about the vagueness and pointlessness of the definition of “assault weapons.” Moreover, Biden has admitted that weapons of the same potential danger to others, when misused by criminals, will remain legal under any conceivable Democratic plan to ban new sales.
The targeting of self-defense and leisure choices of millions of Americans who never have and never will harm anyone unjustly with their weapons to address a tiny portion of any perceived gun violence crisis raises further questions about the effectiveness and constitutionality of such a ban.
The Biden administration’s recent announcement that the Justice Department will give $231 million to states for crisis intervention highlights the administration’s continued efforts to address gun violence. The funding is tagged for use to educate members of the public regarding extreme risk protection orders, strengthen red flag programs, and prevent gun violence. However, such efforts should not be permitted to infringe upon Americans’ Second Amendment rights illegally.