Earlier this month, Joe Biden announced his cabinet pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services: current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. If that name sounds familiar, that is because we have sued Becerra in his professional capacity multiple times for violating Californians’ right to keep and bear arms ever since he replaced Kamala Harris. In fact, we sued Becerra and the State of California just last year in Miller v. Becerra, challenging California’s ban on “assault weapons.”
It would initially seem that a nomination to Secretary of HHS is relatively innocuous. After all, it is not a nomination to the head of the ATF, or U.S. Attorney General. But this time is different. All of the individuals seeking Biden’s nomination have expressed outright hostility toward gun rights and have declared that guns are “a health care issue”. The issue of construing criminal activity as an epidemic has already been a problem at HHS. In 2018, HHS Secretary Alex Azar wanted to supersede congressional restrictions and use the CDC to conduct research on the issue. Moreover, thanks to a number of public statutes, the HHS Secretary has fairly broad discretion to do things such as “implement a plan to assist states and localities to control epidemics and to meet other health emergencies or problems.” Putting two and two together, it would be unsurprising if Biden and Becerra work together to declare public health emergencies in order to redirect resources to help states and localities institute additional gun control.
While it may be a temporary reprieve for gun owners in California, Xavier Becerra’s nomination to head of HHS is a nightmare for gun owners and taxpayers. If Becerra and Biden have their way, federal funding will be used to conduct research that would only be used by Biden and other anti-gun politicians to support further pushes for more gun control from state and federal legislatures and via executive action.