It’s been two years since a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas claimed the lives of 23 people, and President Joe Biden is marking the anniversary with a renewed push for his anti-gun legislative agenda. In an op-ed at the El Paso Times, Biden spoke directly to the community about the loss of life and warned against “domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy,” which Biden called “the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland.”
In order to counter that threat, Biden touted his administration’s efforts to “reduce online radicalization and recruitment to violence,” along with “disrupting the networks that inspire such violence by domestic terrorists and hate groups.”
Biden didn’t stop there, however. He also used the anniversary to push once again for his gun ban plan, which would force millions of legal gun owners to either register their firearms with the federal government (and pay a $200 tax for the “privilege” of keeping their guns) or hand them over to authorities with the promise of some yet-to-be-determined financial stipend.
As we work together to counter the forces of violent hatred, we must also commit to ending the plague of gun violence that steals innocent lives and continues to devastate our communities. I will continue to do everything I can to fight for commonsense gun laws that Americans overwhelmingly support and I call again on Congress to do what we know will make a difference, including a ban of weapons of war — assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like the one that ravaged and pierced this city. And, I will continue to act to reduce gun crime using existing authority — ranging from reining in the proliferation of “ghost guns” to investing in community policing and community violence interventions that can save countless lives.
Now, Biden’s gun ban proposal hasn’t even had a committee vote in the House of Representatives, where the odds of passing are slightly higher than the zero percent chance his gun ban has in the U.S. Senate. I suspect that the reason why Nancy Pelosi hasn’t tried to advance Biden’s gun ban is that she’s not convinced she could corral every Democrat to vote in favor of the legislation, and even if she did the Senate would serve as a roadblock to the bill’s passage (at least as long as the filibuster remains in effect).
I’m not surprised to see Biden mark the anniversary of the El Paso shooting with a call to ban the most commonly-sold rifle in the country, but I do think it’s odd that Biden didn’t use his op-ed as an opportunity to call for the confirmation of gun control activist David Chipman as head of the ATF. While Biden touted the executive branch attempts at gun control through new ATF rules regarding unfinished firearms, he completely ignored the fact that the guy he wants overseeing those efforts can’t find enough votes to become permanent head of the ATF. Biden’s gun ban isn’t going anywhere in Congress at the moment, but Chipman’s already had his confirmation hearing and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. It’s strange to me that Biden wouldn’t at least “call again on Congress” to confirm his nominee, but perhaps he (or more likely, his staff) would prefer not to draw any attention to Chipman’s contempt for gun owners, hostility towards the firearms industry, and alleged bigotry towards black ATF agents. Whatever the reason, it’s a strange omission, and not a good sign for gun control activists desperate to see one of their own in charge of the agency.