Nine Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives quietly filed a bill on Friday that could play a major role in President Biden’s gun control agenda.
The text of the bill has not been released, but the title says everything you need to know: “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act any semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine.”
Lead sponsor Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida explained on Twitter his rationale for filing the legislation.
“Congress passed the National Firearms Act after the 1929 Valentine’s Day massacre to tightly regulate certain machine guns & shotguns,” he said. “After 2018’s V-Day attack at MSD & others, it’s time to update this law & regulate the weapon of choice in mass shootings: semiautomatic rifles.”
Congress passed the National Firearms Act after the 1929 Valentine’s Day massacre to tightly regulate certain machine guns & shotguns.— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) August 6, 2021
After 2018’s V-Day attack at MSD & others, it’s time to update this law & regulate the weapon of choice in mass shootings: semiautomatic rifles.
Of course, semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines existed in the United States well before the National Firearms Act was passed in 1934. Winchester released a semi-automatic rifle in 1905 that used a blowback-operated action with detachable box magazines holding five or ten rounds. Deutch does not explain why the NFA needs to be “updated” over 100 years after the invention of semi-automatic technologies.
It’s also worth noting that according to the FBI, rifles are used in a vanishingly small number of homicides. A rifle was only used in about 2% of homicides that year (364) while knives, hands and feet, and blunt objects were all used more frequently.
Rifles aren’t even the main type of weapon used according to Deutch’s own justification for passing the law. As the anti-gun group Everytown points out, handguns are used in 81% of “mass shootings” while semi-automatic rifles are used in only 16%. (Everytown defines “mass shooting” as an incident in which four or more people are shot and killed.)
The bill might not make much sense from a policy standpoint, but that’s unlikely to stop the Biden administration from trying to ram it through. Defining “assault weapons” as NFA items is a primary objective under Biden’s gun control plan, and the president’s nominee to lead the ATF, David Chipman, has voiced support for the proposal.
The bill may have been quietly introduced, but expect this policy to be a major plank in the Democrats’ gun control agenda moving forward.