Well this can’t be the takeaway that Joe Biden’s anti-gun allies were hoping for when the president flew to Buffalo to meet with elected officials and victims and family of the shooting at a Tops grocery store this past weekend in which ten people were murdered and three others injured. Biden was supposed to put the pressure on Congress to hold a vote on his gun control proposals, including his sought-after ban on modern sporting rifles and “large capacity” magazines.
Instead, while Biden did indeed issue a plea from the podium for Congress to act, he completely undercut his argument when he went off-prompter and engaged in a little Q & A with reporters after his prepared remarks.
Biden spoke with reporters at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport before boarding Air Force One back to Washington. Biden was asked if there were any executive orders he could issue to address gun violence or whether he thought there was a renewed opportunity for Congress to pass new gun reforms in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo.
“Not much on executive action. I’ve got to convince the Congress that we should go back to what I passed years ago,” Biden told reporters. “It’s going to be very difficult. Very difficult. But I’m not going to give up trying.”
“We have enough laws on the books to deal with what’s going on now,” Biden continued. “We just have to deal with it. Look, part of what the country has to do is look in the mirror and face the reality. We have a problem with domestic terror. It’s real.”
“We have enough laws on the books to deal with what’s going on now” is a statement that puts Biden more in line with groups like the NRA than Everytown for Gun Safety, which I’m sure is going over swimmingly with the gun ban crowd, some of whom are already on the record criticizing Biden for what they perceive as a lackluster effort to fulfill his campaign promises to target the Second Amendment.
I don’t expect many media outlets to actually report on this exchange, and most members of the gun control lobby will publicly ignore it as well despite their private grumblings, but Biden’s unscripted statement is actually pretty on-point, aside from his falsehood that his current proposed ban on so-called assault weapons is simply “going back” to the 1994 ban that expired in 2004. There really isn’t much he can do via executive action, at least nothing that would be able to be implemented before the midterms, which is for better or worse the primary consideration of both parties this close to November. He could use his own executive nuclear option and declare that he wants the ATF to start regulating “assault weapons” as machine guns using the argument they’re “readily convertible” to fully automatic, but that would likely end up energizing more Republicans to vote this fall than Democrats, so that’s off the table.
I suspect that Biden is also torn between leaning on Congress to pass his gun ban and knowing that it only makes him look weak and ineffective when Democratic leaders in the Senate are publicly saying they don’t see the point of holding a vote. By telling reporters we already have enough laws on the books to address the problem, he’s also trying to persuade left-leaning voters that Congressional inaction on gun control, even with a Democratic majority, is no impediment to addressing the issue.
But what exactly is the issue? Democrats have apparently settled on a plan to make the First Amendment their top target instead of the Second Amendment. As my colleague Allahpundit writes in a must-read post at our sister site HotAir:
Democrats believe the massacre in Buffalo was a foreseeable result of “great replacement” rhetoric from Republicans, not just too-lax gun laws. What better way to take the fight to the right and show their base how serious they are about restricting GOP incitement than insisting that the First Amendment doesn’t — or shouldn’t — permit “hate speech” or misinformation? Nothing says “she fights!” like signaling your willingness to deprive your political opponents of their constitutional rights.
Besides, they’ve probably seen the polling within their own party on the subject. Modern liberals are willing to give Uncle Sam a wide berth in restricting “false” information.
To be clear, Democrats haven’t shifted their stance on gun control, and we’re still going to see the shooting in Buffalo used to push more state-level gun controls. But for the most part, at the moment Democrats are de-emphasizing their desire to ban “assault weapons” and concentrating on banning “hate speech” instead. It isn’t any more constitutional than trying to ban the most commonly-sold rifle in the country, but they apparently believe it’s more popular politically, so that’s what they’re leading with.