I’d like to say that I have no idea what kind of strategy the White House is using when it comes to enacting Joe Biden’s gun ban agenda, but honestly, I’m pretty sure that they don’t have a strategy at all at the moment. The two gun control measures dealing with background checks that have passed the House of Representatives don’t appear to have any momentum in the U.S. Senate at the moment, but the White House continues to insist that Congress, not the president, needs to take the lead on new gun control measures.
Biden was evasive on the issue during his press conference yesterday when he was asked about using executive orders to jumpstart his anti-gun agenda, telling reporters that it was a “matter of timing” before he dropped the subject and said that his next priority is going to be a massive infrastructure bill and not, say, his proposed gun and magazine ban. Gun control advocates, according to the New York Times, were “stunned and disappointed” by the president’s remarks.
“I’m disappointed he has the nerve and audacity to say he’s going to do things in sequential order,” said Maisha Fields, the vice president of organizing for Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit group, on a group conference call Friday morning. “It’s out of order to have to bury your child. It’s out of order to be shopping for eggs and to have your life disrupted.”
… To some, the response was a pragmatic approach for a president dealing with crises on multiple fronts and a blockade of opposition by Republicans to any gun control measures.
But gun control advocates said they were appalled by his shift in tone on guns from a year ago, when Mr. Biden said on the campaign trail that “every day that we do nothing in response, it is an insult to the innumerable lives across this nation that have been forever shattered by gun violence.”
“I was very frustrated that he pivoted to infrastructure week,” said Igor Volsky, the founder of Gun Down America. That the administration successfully passed a $1.9 trillion rescue plan with no Republican support has only added to his frustration.
“We saw what they can do when they hit the gas pedal,” Mr. Volsky said. “They got it across despite unanimous opposition. That’s the kind of leadership we need to see on this issue.”
What Volsky doesn’t want to acknowledge is that there aren’t even 50 votes for the background check bills in the Senate. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has publicly said he’s opposed to the language of the House bills, and since the bills would require the sign-off of 60 senators, even if Chuck Schumer were to “hit the gas pedal” and bring the bills to the floor for a vote, they’re going to hit a brick wall instead of hitting Biden’s desk.
The delays in implementing Biden’s agenda is even causing friction among gun control groups. The New York Times noted that there’s a big player in the anti-gun movement that wasn’t on the group conference call Friday morning.
Notably absent from the chorus of disapproval was Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the most influential gun violence prevention organizations in the country. “It’s unfortunate they’re not here,” Ms. Fields said, while also noting that each group has its own lane and role to play in a shared mission. John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown, has been pressuring Mr. Biden to act immediately, so far without openly criticizing him for a delay.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Po Murray, chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance, said one of the biggest issues is the administration’s apparent inconsistency on the issue. “Their messaging has been so inconsistent and we’re trying to figure out what’s happening here,” she said. “We pushed for it, we supported him, we expected a better response after the election.”
At some point, the gun control activists are going to get something from the White House in the form of executive orders. The New York Times says the Biden administration is working on three separate executive actions; requiring background checks on the sale of unfinished frames and receivers, grants for community violence intervention programs, and a measure that would “strengthen the background check system.”
That’s not going to be nearly enough to satisfy the anti-gun appetites of Brady, Giffords, and Everytown, especially if any of those executive orders are challenged in court (as I expect will happen with any action attempting to re-interpret the Gun Control Act of 1968 to include things like unfinished frames and receivers). While the gun control groups keep pushing the White House to deliver on its promises, they’re also going to be pushing Democrats to nuke the filibuster and start passing legislation with just 51 votes, because that’s the only chance they have of seeing their legislative agenda enacted into law.
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