The competition for the Democratic presidential nomination might not be heating up in terms of electoral prospects, but it certainly is getting hotter in terms of gun-control hysterics. After Cory Booker rolled out his proposals for ignoring the Second Amendment, Kamala Harris followed up with her proposals to ignore Congress and the voters. Harris will promise to block importation of “AR-15-style assault rifles” by executive order if elected president, according to her campaign:
Kamala Harris’ unilateral crackdown on guns is expanding.
At a presidential campaign event Wednesday in New Hampshire, Harris will pledge to take executive action banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons — a move that comes just three weeks after the California Democrat rolled out her sweeping gun-control proposal. …
Harris wants to ban AR-15-style assault weapon imports and suspend all other assault weapon imports until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can analyze whether they should be permanently banned under U.S. law. Her campaign argues the weapons could be banned because they aren’t “suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” This includes all 44 AR-type models listed in the latest assault weapons ban that was introduced in Congress.
Harris has said she will also work to make gun trafficking a federal crime, ban high-capacity magazines and bar those convicted of a federal hate crime from buying guns.
The order banning the importation of “AR-15-style” firearms might end up being a boost for … the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. That firearm is made in the US by Colt. Even during the ten-year so-called “assault weapons ban,” Colt continued to sell modified versions of its original AR-15 design, and the absence of foreign competitors for this very popular category of carbines will be a boon for Colt.
Charles C.W. Cooke wonders if Harris has gone Trumpian in her protectionism (via Twitchy):
From the United States? https://t.co/3pqt2NMqt4
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) May 15, 2019
There aren't. But given that the American market is enormous, what on earth does she think this would do other than bolster American manufacturing?
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) May 15, 2019
Make American Gun Manufacturers Awesome (MAGMA®)!
The difference between Harris and Booker on gun control is worth exploring. Booker assumes that gun control is so popular that he would be able to work with Congress to pass his licensing scheme. Harris apparently has a more jaundiced idea of what Congress would produce. Perhaps that’s because the latest version of a ban on weapons based on an ambiguous definition as an “assault weapon” is dying on the vine in the Senate. Maybe it’s because the previous version didn’t have any impact at all on firearms deaths, which overwhelmingly come from handguns and not rifles.
Regardless, at least Booker’s promising to govern. Harris is promising to rule, and that’s a distinction that American voters should note with a lot of caution. That impulse is not limited to one side of the aisle, but it’s certainly gaining a lot of momentum on the Left. In fact, it’s starting to be the competitive distinction between the second-tier candidates in the Democratic primary.
That matters because unless Politico got this part wrong, Harris simply can’t do most of this by executive order:
That involves signing executive orders requiring near-universal background checks on gun sales, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” reversing the Trump administration’s move to allow fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants to buy guns, and repealing a law that prevents victims from holding gun-makers and firearms dealers liable for their losses.
The only part of this that can be touched by EO is reversing Trump’s order on fugitives. To put it mildly, presidents can’t repeal statutes by edict, something that one would expect a former state attorney general to know. At NRO, Robert Verbruggen is aghast, and skeptical that courts would allow Harris to get away with even any regulatory flexibility on an explicitly enumerated constitutional right:
That sounds like a recipe for a long court battle too, especially given rumors that the current Supreme Court is going to be less willing to let executive agencies stretch the meanings of the statutes they enforce. Semiautomatic “assault weapons” are functionally similar to semiautomatic hunting rifles and are absolutely suitable for “sporting purposes,” including target shooting and even hunting.
I suspect the reporting might be wrong here — and heaven help us if it’s not — but Politico further claims that Harris’s executive orders would include “repealing a law that prevents victims from holding gun-makers and firearms dealers liable for their losses.” Needless to say, one cannot “repeal a law” with an executive order.
The best possible version of this is that Harris is simply blowing smoke in order to make Booker look incremental. To anyone with a modicum of knowledge on these subjects, Harris is only making Booker look incrementally less ignorant, at best. At worst, Harris is making herself look much more tyrannical, and perhaps not incrementally either.
Meanwhile, maybe Harris can use this as a slogan from someone else who had dreams of global rule: