Murphy pushing Biden for more anti-gun executive actions

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Gun control is not a priority for most voters these days, and it’s a huge liability for Democrats hoping to engage in outreach to rural voters, but that’s not stopping one of the Senate’s most ardent anti-gun advocates from pushing his party to go big on restricting the right to keep and bear arms ahead of the midterms.

Connecticut’s Chris Murphy knows that gun control legislation isn’t going anywhere in the U.S. Senate at the moment, however, which means that his lobbying efforts are focused on the White House and not his colleagues on Capitol Hill.

“Because we are at a logjam in the United States Senate, it means that the burden on the administration to step up and take action is great,” Murphy said. “This administration can do more, this administration should do more. And I think it’s time to see some more urgency from the Biden Administration when it comes to the steps that they can take to save lives.”

Murphy is calling on Biden to finalize the ATF’s proposed rule on home-built firearms, which is slated to be released in a couple of months, as well as nominating a new permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after former ATF agent-turned gun control activist David Chipman’s nomination was defeated before a Senate vote was ever cast.
Additionally, Murphy and some gun control activists want to see Biden create a White House-level “National Office of Gun Violence Prevention,” though what that position would entail and what authority it would have remains unclear.
Biden clearly doesn’t mind talking about gun control. He repeated his calls for Congress to pass a ban on so-called assault weapons and more during his State of the Union address this week, even repeating his oft-debunked claim about the firearms industry being the only industry that’s immune from litigation. And it’s not as if he’s done nothing for gun control activists. There are two proposed rules from the ATF that are expected to be finalized in the coming months; the measure trying to restrict home-built firearms and one dealing with pistol stabilizing braces.
Neither of those measures are likely to be acceptable to gun owners, and it remains to be seen how enthusiastically they’re received by gun control groups who may be disappointed if the new rules don’t ban privately-built firearms or brace-equipped AR-style pistols outright. I have a sneaking suspicion that the ATF rules are going to go too far for most gun owners and not far enough for many gun control activists, in part because Biden has a knack for disappointing most everybody, but I guess we’ll see soon enough.
I confess that I’m somewhat surprised that Biden hasn’t thrown anti-gun activists a bone by granting their request for a White House position dedicated to boosting gun control. Then again, there are still dozens of existing positions that Biden has yet to fill, so even if he did announce he was creating the office, who knows if or when he’d ever get around to naming the person in charge.
What about a new nominee to head up the ATF? Biden vowed to name one after David Chipman’s nomination was pulled, but we haven’t even heard a whisper about any potential replacements in the months since, and my guess is that the White House isn’t willing to move forward with another candidate until they’ve identified someone who’d be acceptable to senators like Joe Manchin and Angus King as well as activists like Shannon Watts and Giffords’ Peter Ambler. The real question is are they even looking for a candidate at the moment?
It’s a foregone conclusion that Joe Biden isn’t going to do anything to please or placate Second Amendment activists between now and the midterms, but short of trying to ban AR-15s through executive action I’m not sure what he could do that would really energize the gun prohibition lobby ahead of Election Day either. I think the most likely scenario is that Biden continues to disappoint people on both sides of the issue, albeit for very different reasons.