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After Biden Announces Executive Actions, Gun Control Groups Press For Legislation

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

You’d think that anti-gun groups would take at least a day or two to promote Joe Biden’s new executive actions on gun control, including the nomination of gun control activist David Chipman to head up the ATF, but the anti-gun crowd knows that a) it’s going to be at least a month before the DOJ starts trying to move on home-built firearms (“ghost guns” to the gun-banners) and b) Biden’s executive orders can’t give them what they really want; sweeping gun control legislation approved by Congress that can’t be undone the next time a pro-2A president is in the White House.

So, the gun control activists are at it again, though they seem to be a little confused about why a pair of background check-related gun control bills aren’t moving in Congress.

A prominent gun control advocacy group is urging President Joe Biden to act quickly on his proposed firearms legislation, after a week that saw 345 people killed by gun violence in the United States.

“He doesn’t have all the time in the world. He needs to move forward with legislative changes today, now, because what’s at stake is real human life,” Kris Brown, president of gun control advocacy group Brady, said on CBSN Friday.

She echoed Mr. Biden’s calls to the Senate urging the body to pass two proposals already passed by the House aimed at expanding background checks.

“The bill he’s referencing, which would repeal the immunity Congress gave years ago to the gun industry, that is being sponsored, and has been every year in Congress, by the incredible Representative Adam Schiff. He is moving forward with reintroducing that bill and we want to hear the president continue to echo and push Congress to act,” Brown said.

Biden can push, but the problem for gun control activists at the moment is that, in the Senate, both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are pushing back against undoing the filibuster, which is necessary in order for Democrats to get their gun control bills to Biden’s desk. Sinema was outspoken this week about the need for senators to “change their behavior” instead of changing Senate rules, and Manchin followed her statement with his own vow in a Washington Post column to never repeal or weaken the filibuster rule.

The filibuster is a critical tool to protecting that input and our democratic form of government. That is why I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.

Think about the recent history. In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) led the charge to change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Cabinet-level nominees and federal judges. I was one of only three Democratic senators to vote against this rule change. In 2017, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed to lower the threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority. I voted against that change, too. Despite my votes, both rules changes were enacted and the filibuster was weakened, allowing the majority to more easily enact its agenda with little to no input from the minority.

Every time the Senate voted to weaken the filibuster in the past decade, the political dysfunction and gridlock have grown more severe. The political games playing out in the halls of Congress only fuel the hateful rhetoric and violence we see across our country right now. The truth is, my Democratic friends do not have all the answers and my Republican friends do not, either. This has always been the case.

As for Brown’s desire to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, I doubt Manchin would be on board even if the filibuster wasn’t an issue, if for no other reason than West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice just signed a bill that offers big tax breaks to firearms and ammunition manufacturers that are located in or move to the state. It would be an idiotic move politically to support junk lawsuits designed to put these companies out of business when the state is trying to attract those companies to leave anti-gun states and put down roots in West Virginia.

Brown and other gun control activists will complain about the recalcitrance of the gun lobby and the GOP, but their biggest roadblock at the moment are a pair of Democrat senators; one from the red(dish?) state of Arizona and one from the crimson-colored state of West Virginia, where Joe Biden didn’t win a single county in the 2020 elections.

I do encourage the gun control movement to push the House to vote for every cock-eyed idea that they’ve embraced, however. Vote on Biden’s gun ban and confiscation plan! Vote on gun-rationing, and a new federal license to own a firearm. Vote on federal red flag laws and waiting periods and all of the other restrictions that anti-gun activists want to put in place to curtail legal gun ownership. After all, the 2022 midterms are quickly approaching, and Americans are still purchasing firearms in record numbers (and are likely to continue to do so as long as the Democrats keep pushing new restrictions on the Second Amendment). Outside of the media bubble in which most gun control orgs operate, their ideas aren’t nearly as popular, and I’m fine with making their idea of turning the right to keep and bear arms into a privilege a campaign issue in 2022.

May 16, 2021 8:30 AM ET