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Biden's Gun-Control Signal in Health & Human Services Nomination

Op/Ed from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Biden's Gun-Control Signal in Health & Human Services Nomination

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (Photo by Vasilis Asvestas/Shutterstock)

President-elect Joe Biden is taking an early turn to the far left with his nomination of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to take over the Department of Health and Human Services.

That nomination would put a firebrand gun control collaborator at the helm of the nation’s leading health organization delivering services and support of scientific advances in medicine, public health and social services. This is a harbinger that the federal office that employs 80,000 and has a $1.3 trillion budget will be used to push an antigun ideology over science. Attorney General Becerra’s nomination means the the next four years will be an administration pushing firearm ownership as a public health crisis and using the cover of a national health emergency to trample on Constitutional rights.

Attorney General Becerra’s public career started in California, working as a deputy attorney general for California’s Department of Justice before he was elected to the State Assembly, then to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-2017. He left Congress when he was chosen by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to succeed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as California’s Attorney General.

California Gun Control Parade

When it comes to gun control, California’s jockeying to lead the parade with Attorney General Becerra as the drum major waving the giant stick. He’s embroiled in two lawsuits challenging California gun control laws that could have national impacts. The first is Duncan v Becerra, a case challenging California’s ban on standard capacity magazines, or what the state labels "large capacity magazines" (LCMs). In 2000, the state banned the sale of new magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, but a 2016 voter initiative called Proposition 63 made possessing those magazines purchased before the ban illegal. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez blistered the law in his ruling that it’s unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Benitez’s ruling earlier this year.

Another high-profile challenge to California’s onerous gun control laws is Miller v Becerra, a case that challenges the state’s nearly 20-year ban on modern sporting rifles, or what they knowingly mislabel "assault rifles." That case, too, was brought before Judge Benitez who ruled the law was unconstitutional. Attorney General Becerra also appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where it was denied a motion to dismiss the case.

That’s Not All

Attorney General Becerra’s fights to place stumbling blocks in the way of lawful firearm ownership don’t just involve modern sporting rifles and their magazines. He’s also defending a law that requires universal background checks for ammunition purchases. California passed a law requiring background checks for ammunition sales, which was challenged by U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Kim Rhode. The case, Rhode v Becerra, challenges the burdensome regulation that was fraught with inaccuracies and outages. Judge Benitez thrashed that law and issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the law. Attorney General Becerra again appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and won a stay against the preliminary injunction while the case awaits hearing there.

Attorney General Becerra also led the defense of California’s slow-motion handgun ban. In Pena v Horan, a challenge to California’s Unsafe Handgun Act that bans handguns in common use for lawful purposes. That case was appealed the U.S. Supreme Court, but denied review last summer, along with nine other firearm-related cases. He also defended the law in NSSF v State of California, filed in 2014 that went to the California Supreme Court, the state’s mandate to incorporate microstamping technology for firearms that doesn’t exist. In 2007, California gun control advocates knew they couldn’t outright ban handguns, so they put a condition on their approved sale.

They would be required to incorporate technically-unfeasible microstamping technology, that would make identifying marks on two places of each cartridge casing fired from the firearm. The state’s Department of Justice created a list of “approved” handguns that’s only shrunk. They haven’t added a new semiautomatic handgun since 2013, when then-Attorney General Kamala Harris triggered the law. A new law passed in California last session only speeds that shrinking roster. The new law calls for three handguns to be removed for every new one added.

Wrong Prescription

The problem with Attorney General Becerra leading the nation’s health agency is that any issue he finds politically unfavorable can be labelled a public health crisis and be used to justify unprecedented restrictions on constitutionally protected individual liberties. Gun control advocates have been trying to do this for years, as if criminal activity could be cured with a pill.


Thinking this wouldn’t happen would be foolish. The evidence abounds that this not only could happen, it has and is happening. The COVID pandemic saw governors order firearm retailers and ranges to close, reversing course only after threats of lawsuits, or their orders were tossed out by judges. Democratic Govs. Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo trampled on religious liberties by attempting to block people from attending services at churches and synagogues. They didn’t stop until the courts told them, and even then, they’re grousing that they’re the authority.

They’re neglecting that they are accountable to the people. That’s us. Don’t expect Attorney General Becerra to be any different at the Department of Health and Human Services. He’ll make you swallow the gun control pill and it will come in one color. Blue.

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