POLITICO: Biden's Had A "Transformation" On Gun Control

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

As recently as two weeks ago Joe Biden was publicly patting himself on the back for passing an “assault weapons” ban back in the 1990s. The president regularly says he wants to see Congress pass “common sense” gun control measures, including his proposed ban and compensated confiscation of tens of millions of legally-owned firearms. He nominated a gun control activist as head of the ATF, and the agency is currently formalizing the adoption of new regulations aimed squarely at legal gun owners.

Yet according to POLITICO, Joe Biden’s undergone a “transformation” on the issue. In a new story, the outlet claims that back in the 1990s, and even during his first few years as Barack Obama’s vice-president, Biden wasn’t really that interested in the issue of gun control.

When Pastor Michael McBride visited the White House in January 2013 for one of Vice President Joe Biden’s gun violence task force meetings, he said he was one of just two Black people in the room.

McBride, the national director of Faith in Action’s LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign, recalls the heavy anguish that day as faith leaders proposed ideas for preventing yet another mass shooting in America after the Sandy Hook massacre left 20 children and six adults dead the month prior. When it was McBride’s turn to have the floor, he spoke about the gun deaths of Black and brown Americans — killings largely ignored in the national conversation about gun violence.

McBride called on Biden to unite the country around the “shared pain of gun violence.” He told the vice president he had the opportunity to create a winning political coalition by addressing gun violence in urban communities across the country.

But Biden’s response was one McBride had heard many times before — one he calls deeply painful.

“While there was a compassionate acknowledgment of the issue, there was not the political will to place this work front and center in the gun violence conversation. And I think that too often … there was always a lot of calculus around, is this politically viable?” McBride said. “And so for someone like myself and so many others who were burying Black children and Black family members regularly, that has never been a good answer.”

The response from Biden that day stands in contrast to how he talks about gun violence now. As president, Biden has promised billions of dollars in funding for community violence intervention, or CVI, programs that have been shown to break cycles of violence by connecting high-risk individuals to wraparound social services. His White House has proposed a multi-pronged response to a recent spike in violent crime in cities across the country.

So that’s the big transformation that Biden’s had? He not only now supports gun control legislation that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms, but also spending hundreds of millions of dollars on “community violence intervention” programs? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it’s all that transformational to see a Democrat sign on to more government spending.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has made gun control one of his top priorities, has been witness to Biden’s breakthroughs and failures on gun control. He was there when the Senate defeated those post-Sandy Hook legislative efforts. Murphy is there now as Biden’s current gun control priorities drag.

Murphy told POLITICO in June that he doesn’t blame Biden for the gun control stalemate. Though the senator is holding out hope that he can get some Republicans on board with his current push for background check legislation, he knows getting anything done will be a challenge with what he calls the “Byzantine Senate rules” — aka the filibuster.

As Murphy continues his own gun control fight in Congress, he’s been a top supporter of the Biden administration’s focus on CVI. In August, when urging the passage of the Build Back Better budget resolution, Murphy argued the need for more federal dollars to fund community violence intervention programs.

“If you take a look at what drives violence and exposure to violence in this country, the number one correlative factor is income,” he said. “The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be the victim of violence. By investing in communities that have high rates of violence and not coincidentally, high rates of poverty, you are reducing violence in this nation.”

I actually don’t have a problem with community violence intervention programs that have a track record of success, though I don’t think the federal government needs to be spending $5-billion on them. But to declare that Biden has a had a “transformation” on the issue of gun control (or “gun violence”) is simply ridiculous. Biden is still backing every one of his gun control proposals, and he’s still doing everything he can via executive authority to impose new criminal penalties on the right to keep and bear arms.

Heck, his own acting Solicitor General stood before the Supreme Court this week and argued that New York’s “may issue” carry law should remain on the books, despite the fact that the vast majority of people charged with (and convicted of) the “violent” felony of carrying a gun without a license in New York City are young black men without a serious criminal history. Biden is still wholeheartedly embracing the same anti-gun ideology that’s guided his politics for decades. The fact that he’s now adding billions of dollars in grants to community groups isn’t a sign of any philosophical transformation. It’s just another indication of a political calculation on the part of Democrats; keep the far Left wing happy by offering billions in non-police spending while keeping the Establishment wing satisfied by continuing to push a gun control strategy that relies on arrests, prosecution, and incarceration.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET