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President Biden’s gun plan includes mandatory registration of “assault weapons” for anyone wishing to keep those they already own. He is the first president to raise the issue of gun registration in more than 50 years since President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He’s the first ever, too, to propose banning new sales of “assault” or tactical, semiautomatic weapons.
The Biden administration is responding to pressure for gun reform led today by survivors of the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The plan has finally put on the table what gun reform advocates including surviving parents and others have long demanded, seemingly in vain until now. The House just passed major gun control bills on Thursday.
Gun rights advocates, however, a group that seems to include nearly every leader of the Republican Party, are readying for a fight. If there is one issue that could reunite the GOP, from Sen. Mitch McConnell to former President Trump, not to mention every group from Three Percenters to neo-Nazis who joined in the Jan. 6 Capitol takeover, it is gun registration. Against it, that is.
It is impossible to imagine how Biden could succeed in healing the nation, as he has promised, and still enact all of his gun plan. Many if not most of the 74 million people who voted for Trump’s reelection would also oppose this plan. Not to mention many elected officials, from governors to constitutional sheriffs, who might refuse to comply. Or the new Roberts Supreme Court, which will one day no doubt rule on gun laws.
Millions of people, today, see gun control itself as an existential threat.
“They call it the slippery slope, and all of a sudden everything gets taken away,” as President Trump said in 2018 when he reversed himself on background checks after the back-to-back weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton. He did so after speaking with the National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre, who, like the NRA, has long promoted this theory.