Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden wants gun owners to either hand their hardware to the feds or sign up for a national registry, according to his campaign’s gun control plan announced on Thursday.
At a candidate gun control forum on the day before the plan’s announcement, Biden said that something like a national gun registry or national gun licensing was something that could be done “down the line,” but spoke more strongly in favor of “serious things” that could be done quickly.
One of those “serious things,” outlined in Thursday’s plan, is treating so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines like machine guns under federal law. Basically, gun owners with offending hardware will have two options: “Sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.”
What constitutes an “assault weapon,” according to Biden’s plan? Well, the candidate wants to bring back the 1994 ban with modifications: “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.”
Of course, one of the key criticisms of the 1994 ban was that it focused primarily on cosmetic features that didn’t affect how guns functioned in the first place, so it remains to be seen what lessons will be learned in new legislation.
Meanwhile, with his “down the line” admission on Wednesday, Biden has given more credence to the slippery slope concerns that Second Amendment proponents raise whenever the subject of new gun control comes up, just as fellow candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., did at a recent Democratic debate.
While running in a presidential field packed with further-left candidates, Biden has tried to brand himself so far as the party’s more moderate choice (despite his platform being well to the left of Hillary Clinton’s in 2016); the question here is whether or not moderates and independents will get on board with a gun control plan like this.
However, given the current state of the 2020 Democratic field on gun control — and the fact that things like confiscation and federal licensing are becoming progressive litmus tests — maybe this is what subjectively passes for moderate gun control now.