The national conversation around gun rights and the Second Amendment is in the spotlight once more, as President Joe Biden reaffirms his position on modern sporting rifles (MSRs). At the recent Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, President Biden posed a rhetorical question, asking, “Who in God’s name needs a weapon with 100 rounds in the chamber?” and emphasizing his belief that such weapons are primarily meant for harm.
Recalling his tenure in the U.S. Senate, the President evoked memories of the federal government’s decision to ban the sale of MSRs from 1994-2004, a period that began under President Bill Clinton and concluded during George W. Bush’s administration. Expressing a desire to reinstitute such a ban, he stated, “As long as I’m in office I’m not going to stop until we get it done again.”
However, President Biden’s comments about “weapons with 100 rounds in the chamber” raised eyebrows, as such firearms do not exist in the configuration described. Furthermore, in discussing the tragic violence faced by Israelis during the Hamas attacks, the President seemed to overlook the stringent gun control laws in place in Israel. These laws left many civilians defenseless during the onslaught.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, a staggering 1,400 Israelis were estimated to have been killed in these surprise attacks. The majority were civilians, many of whom faced unspeakable horrors at the hands of their attackers. Scenes reminiscent of ISIS atrocities were reported, with entire families being annihilated and evidence of torture discovered at multiple crime scenes.
While the egregious actions of Hamas stand without justification, it’s vital to note the lack of a recognized right to bear arms in Israel, unlike the U.S. Such a right could potentially have given Israelis a means to protect themselves, potentially reducing the tragic loss of life.
Moreover, the attacks weren’t limited to Israelis. 30 Americans also tragically lost their lives. This raises concerns for U.S. citizens abroad and emphasizes the necessity of self-defense. As Secretary of State Anthony Blinken aptly put it alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, every nation has the “right – indeed, the obligation – to defend itself.”
Further compounding global tensions, Hamas has taken an estimated 199 hostages, including women, children, and the elderly. Videos of these hostages have surfaced, causing additional distress and concern on the international stage.
Domestically, concerns about national security are mounting. As of July 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol apprehended 216 individuals at the U.S.-Mexico border who matched identities on the Terrorist Screening Dataset. This number has seen an alarming increase compared to the previous year.
Amidst these discussions, it’s important to acknowledge that 24.4 million MSRs have been produced in the U.S. since 1990, excluding military numbers. These firearms have surged in popularity, signaling a clear demand and usage by the American public.
In considering the larger legal framework, the U.S. Supreme Court has made definitive rulings on gun rights. Landmark cases such as Heller, McDonald, and Bruen have consistently upheld the individual’s right to bear arms. They have reinforced that the Second Amendment is not just a governmental privilege to raise militias but a constitutionally protected right for every American.
In summary, while President Biden’s commitment to addressing gun violence is commendable, it’s crucial to approach this topic with a comprehensive understanding of both the domestic and global contexts. As he aims to uphold his oath to protect the Constitution, ensuring the rights and safety of Americans at home and abroad remains paramount.