Gun control activists demand Biden pressure Congress to nuke filibuster

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

It’s no surprise or shock to the system to see Democrats demanding another round of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms after the shooting during Highland Park, Illinois’ Fourth of July parade in which seven people were murdered and dozens others injured. Yes, the president just signed a bipartisan bill on guns, mental health, and school security, but that doesn’t matter to those anti-gun politicians and activists who won’t be satisfied until the right to keep and bear arms is off-limits to most Americans.

In the wake of the shooting, the gun control lobby is yet again complaining that Joe Biden isn’t doing enough to crack down on gun owners, though what they’re demanding is more about politics than actual policy.

From the White House, Biden is increasingly limited on what he’s able to do on the matter. And what is on the top of his list for Congress to act on — a reinstatement of a 2004 ban on assault weapons, which are often used in mass shootings — has no chance of advancing given the current makeup of the Senate.

But advocates insist Biden needs to put more resources and personnel toward tackling the issue of gun violence plaguing the country. Robin Lloyd of Giffords, a group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), suggested the administration could house such an effort in a department whose sole focus is gun violence prevention.

“Gun violence is the leading cause of death of children in this country and that is really horrific. If that is the case, why isn’t there a robust team of people working on that every day?” she said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spent some of the daily briefing on Tuesday reiterating that Biden has been forceful in his messaging in the immediate aftermath of attacks that have targeted a variety of public spaces.

Jean-Pierre said that Biden will “absolutely” call for more to be done on gun violence and that the administration would continue to communicate with members of Congress but was short on specifics.

Noah Lumbantobing, a spokesperson for March for Our Lives, said Biden still has “tools he hasn’t unlocked.”

“We feel the whiplash too. … We wanted to relish this moment as well, and we did celebrate it when it passed,” Lumbantobing said of the gun bill. “We don’t have the opportunity to rest, and certainly the president doesn’t. It’s not the role of a leader in a crisis, and it’s a call for the president to do anything he can in light of the epidemic, and he hasn’t.”

While Giffords’ Lloyd wants to see a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, March for Our Lives’ Lumbantobing is apparently operating under the delusion that Biden has the power to nuke the filibuster by arm-twisting Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

“The Democratic Party right now could have prevented what happened yesterday. It could have prevented Uvalde. It hinges on two senators,” Lumbantobing said. “The president absolutely needs to be putting more pressure on the Senate to end the filibuster.”

Biden has expressed support for nuking the filibuster in recent days in order to pass pro-abortion legislation, but Manchin and Sinema have both rejected that idea outright, and Manchin refused to embrace the idea after the shooting in Uvalde as well, telling reporters that the filibuster is the only thing keeping Congress from devolving into “pure insanity.” With that off the table, what exactly are gun control activists hoping to get from the White House, other than creating an office to address “gun violence” that would have no impact whatsoever on violent crimes across the country? Honestly, they’ve got nothing more to offer than their stale and tired talking points.

Christian Heyne, vice president of policy at Brady, argued that shootings are more lethal in the U.S. because of the availability of high-capacity magazines.

“I think that the president has indicated that he will continue to do everything within his power to work to end gun violence and that means that we have more work to do,” Heyne said. “If there is an opportunity by any means necessary to push for the kind of necessary reform, we’re going to need at some point to have honest conversations — not just on assault weapons bans but also universal background checks.”

Bans on the most commonly-sold rifle in the United States aren’t likely to fly with the Supreme Court, at least based on the test outlined in the Bruen decision. which requires governments to show that their favored gun control laws have some sort of historical analogue. There’s simply no evidence that bans on commonly-owned firearms have ever been widespread or longstanding in the United States, and on that basis alone I don’t think a ban on so-called assault weapons is going to pass muster.

Universal background checks might fare better with the Supreme Court, but even if they were deemed constitutional they’re going to be completely ineffective at preventing violent crime. There’s no way for police to proactively enforce a background check law when it comes to private, person-to-person sales, and honestly, most if not all of these horrific targeted attacks that we’ve seen over the past couple of months have involved individuals that were legally eligible to purchase a gun despite repeated contacts with police and concerning behavior. The answer isn’t to put more restrictions on law-abiding citizens, but rather to ensure that current laws are being enforced and that our criminal justice and mental health systems aren’t operating dysfunctionally. I suppose Joe Biden could pressure Congress to act in that regard, but frankly that’s not a priority for Democrats in Congress, the White House, or inside the gun control lobby.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Biden and company throw the gun control lobby a bone and at least make noise about that Office of Gun Violence Prevention or another executive branch initiative in the coming weeks. With Biden’s approval rating sliding down to new lows, the left is trying to convince their base to show up and vote in November, and if gun control activists feel like their demands are falling on deaf Democrat ears some of them may very well decide it’s not worth turning out to the polls on Election Day. Biden is desperate to prevent that from happening, but what he intends to do about it (at least when it comes to the Second Amendment) is apparently very much an open question at the moment.