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With a flurry of mass shootings so far in 2021 — more than 150 according to the not-for-profit Gun Violence Archive — President Joe Biden has used his power as an executive to address gun control, among other issues.
The action caused an uproar among many Republicans in Congress, including U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson. The Marion Republican sent a statement April 8 saying the executive action will “trample” Iowans’ constitutional rights.
“With the stroke of a pen, the President would make it harder to purchase a firearm for self-defense and potentially make millions of lawful gun owners criminals," Hinson said in the statement.
We’ll first take a look at whether Biden “would make it harder to purchase a firearm for self-defense.”
When asked for sourcing, Hinson’s spokeswoman Sophie Seid pointed to the part of Biden’s order regarding stabilizing braces. A stabilizing brace is an accessory that someone can attach to the back of a firearm to extend it and allow it to be “secured to the shooter’s forearm” or used as a “quasi-shoulder stock,” according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
A stabilizing brace was believed to have been used in the March 22 Boulder mass shooting, according to The Denver Post.
Biden’s executive actions prompt the Department of Justice to “issue a proposed rule” for weapons with stabilizing braces to be subject to registration requirements of the National Firearms Act. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a seven-month backlog for applications to register weapons under the firearms act, according to ATF’s website, so a gun owner likely would not be able to legally use a stabilizing brace right away under the order.
A gun buyer, though, does not have to purchase a firearm with a stabilizing brace, especially for use as self-defense. The vast majority of weapons likely do not have these accessories, according to national firearm estimates.
The Congressional Research Service report estimated there to be between 10 and 40 million stabilizing braces or similar devices in the United States. The Small Arms Survey, a project by Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, estimated there to be 393 million civilian-held firearms as of 2018 in the United States.
A different part of the order restricts “ghost guns” that come in self-assembly kits and do not have serial numbers and do not require licensing or background checks.
While the order would make it more difficult to buy a stabilizing brace or “ghost guns,” it does not make it “harder to purchase a firearm for self-defense” as claimed. We give this part of the claim a D.
Regarding the potential of “making millions of lawful gun owners criminals” — the second part of Hinson’s claim — Seid again referred to the part of the order affecting stabilizing braces.
Seid said that ATF hypothetically could implement a buyback program or mandatory registration of the devices that will become regulated because of Biden’s order. ATF has not yet announced how it plans to implement the order after the Department of Justice issues its “proposed rule.”
Neither of those hypotheticals, however, would by itself turn a law-abiding gun owner into a criminal. After the federal guidance comes out, someone would have to willfully ignore any retroactive requirement to be in violation. We give this part of the claim a D also.
Hinson’s statement stokes fear among Second Amendment advocates with little evidence to back it. With two Ds, we give this claim a D overall.
The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/officeholder or a national candidate/officeholder about Iowa, or in ads that appear in our market.
Claims must be independently verifiable.
We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.
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This Fact Checker was researched and written by John Steppe of The Gazette.