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By Coy Knobel, Cowboy State Daily
President Joe Biden believes people in Wyoming and across the nation have too much access to too many guns.
In his Feb. 7 State of the Union Address, Biden highlighted some of his administration’s efforts to control access to firearms, along with some of the steps he’d like to take next to address his concerns.
If Biden wants to double down on gun control efforts, he’ll have to go through Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill, along with 15 other attorneys general.
In a Wednesday letter to Biden, the group calls the president’s position on American firearm access “irresponsible and unconstitutional,” and they vow to oppose his restrictive policies.
The president listed enhanced background checks for 18- to 21-year-olds and red-flag laws “keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others” as some of his accomplishments in office so far.
Red flag laws are designed to allow authorities to disarm people before they have done something illegal on the grounds that others believe there is that potential.
Biden said Americans need to do more.
“Ban assault weapons now! Ban them now! Once and for all,” Biden said. “I led the fight to do that in 1994. And in 10 years that ban was law, mass shootings went down. After we let it expire in a Republican administration, mass shootings tripled.
“Let’s finish the job and ban these assault weapons.”
States Will Fight ‘With Every Tool At Our Disposal’
Hill and her colleagues wrote to Biden that they would, “with every tool at our disposal … oppose your attempt to trample on Americans’ fundamental right to defend themselves with guns.”
They said the president is purposely vague on defining what an “assault rifle” really is in an effort to increase the reach of his restrictions on firearms.
“Anti-gun politicians like yourself use the misleading label of ‘assault weapon’ to scare Americans – expecting us to endorse your efforts to criminalize law-abiding gun owners,” the letter says. “We also know that your personal definition of ‘assault weapons’ is staggeringly broad – encompassing all semiautomatic weapons – which are the most common and effective self-defense weapons in use today.”
The AGs dispute Biden’s claim that a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles in the 1990s resulted in fewer shootings. They cited studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice during the Clinton and Bush administrations that found no discernible effect on violent crime from that legislation.
Don’t Disarm ‘Everyday Heroes’
They also took issue with how the president highlighted the heroics of a 26-year-old California man.
Brandon Tsay disarmed a gunman who had already killed 11 people in Monterey Park, California, earlier the same night during Lunar New Year celebrations.
“He saw a man standing there pointing a semi-automatic pistol at him. He thought he was going to die, but he thought about the people inside,” Biden said. “In that instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic pistol away from the gunman who had already killed 11 people in another dance studio.”
Biden acknowledged Tsay, who was at the speech as the president’s guest.
“He saved lives. It’s time we do the same,” the president said.
The AGs agree that Tsay’s actions were heroic, but wrote that most people in Tsay’s position end up victims because they are unarmed.
“Far from empowering heroes like Mr. Tsay, your policies would disarm them, turning everyday heroes into additional victims of deranged killers,” the attorneys general wrote.
Don’t ‘Disarm Law-Abiding Citizens’
They said a crime victim with a gun is much safer than someone without one and cited statistics from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study commissioned by the Obama-Biden administration to prove their point.
“In your speech, you correctly praised Brandon Tsay,” the state officials wrote, “but then you immediately called for policies that will disarm law-abiding citizens – making it harder, and much more dangerous, for them to engage in lawful self-defense in the future.”
Hill and the other AGs also pointed out that the gun used in the California shooting was already illegal under California law, “and thus an ‘assault weapon’ ban was obviously ineffective in preventing the shooting.”
This week after a mass shooting at Michigan State University, the president said too many American communities have been devastated by violence committed by people with guns.
“I have taken action to combat this epidemic in America, including a historic number of executive actions and the first significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, but we must do more,” he said.
Biden said this and other shootings should “cause every American to exclaim ‘enough’ and demand that Congress take action.”
Biden Ups Call For Action
For the president, that action includes “requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, closing loopholes in our background check system, requiring safe storage of guns, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
He said that “action is what we owe to those grieving today in Michigan and across America.”
An action taken this year by the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is the enactment of a rule restricting use of pistol stabilizing braces.
Critics said this means that millions of gun-owning American citizens who were law abiding before the new rule will suddenly be criminals if they don’t comply.
Some local and state jurisdictions have said they will not enforce the rule.
Wyoming, 24 other states and gun-makers are suing the Biden administration for overstepping its authority.
‘We Stand Ready To Oppose’
The AGs outline in their letter that Biden’s “repeated attempts to deprive law-abiding Americans of guns that are in common and widespread use for self-defense are patently unconstitutional.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is one of the most fundamental and deeply rooted liberties in our constitutional tradition,” the letter says. “It guards and protects the most basic of all rights, the right to life, and it stands as a constant bulwark against tyranny.
“We stand ready to oppose any attempt by your Administration to trample on this fundamental constitutional right.”
Austin Knudsen, Montana’s attorney general, was the main signer of the letter. In addition to Wyoming and Montana, attorneys general from Idaho, Utah, Texas, West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, Arkansas, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky were signatories.