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100+ House Dems ask Biden to take executive action on ‘concealable assault-style’ guns

AR-15 rifle. (Michael Guio/Flickr)
April 02, 2021

A letter from 109 House Democrats on Wednesday called on President Joe Biden to take executive action regulating concealable “assault-style” weapons, citing the recent mass shooting in Boulder, Colo., in which 10 people were killed.

Reps. Mike Thompson, Joe Neguse, Val Demings and Ed Perlmutter and 105 of their colleagues sent the letter to Biden asking him to regulate the “assault-style” firearms under the National Firearms Act, which controls certain firearms, like machine guns.

“Concealable assault-style firearms that fire rifle rounds pose an unreasonable threat to our communities and should be fully regulated under the National Firearms Act consistent with the intent and history of the law. The recent tragedy in Boulder, Colorado where 10 people including a police officer were killed is one in a string of deadly incidents involving this style of weapon,” the letter said.

Thomas chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and Neguse represents Boulder, Colo.

The letter claims, “For too long, gun manufacturers in order to circumvent the National Firearms Act have designed and marketed concealable AR-15 style firearms which fire rifle rounds.”

The National Firearms Act requires federal registration of fully-automatic machine guns, as well as rifles with a barrel length of less than 16 inches, shotguns with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, silencers, and more. Firearms subject to the law also require a $200 tax paid to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s administration is “working on a couple of levers” to implement new gun control policy either through Congress or by executive action.  

Psaki said the administration has “seen an openness by even some Republicans to having a debate and a discussion.”

“While that is moving, while there are discussions on that front — and the president will certainly be engaged in those — we are also continuing to review and consider what the options are for executive actions,” Psaki said.

The House recently passed two gun control bills expanding background checks, but the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate. In order to pass, the legislation would need 60 votes, meaning Democrats would have to get 10 Republicans to support the bills.

Last week, Biden’s administration urged the Supreme Court to uphold a warrantless gun confiscation ruling as the nation’s top court heard oral arguments on Caniglia v. Strom, a case that could have major consequences for the Fourth Amendment where policing, due process and mental health are concerned.

In its first amicus brief before the Supreme Court, Biden’s Department of Justice argued the actions taken by law enforcement to confiscate the petitioner’s firearms without a warrant were “reasonable.”

“The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness,” the DOJ’s brief stated. “For criminal investigations, this Court has generally incorporated the Warrant Clause into the Fourth Amendment’s overarching reasonableness requirement, but it has not generally done so for searches or seizures objectively premised on justifications other than the investigation of wrongdoing.”

“The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception, but instead whether those actions were reasonable. And under all the circumstances here, they were,” the brief added.