Joe Biden officially signed the Safer Communities Act two weeks ago, but that’s not stopping him from hosting a number of gun control activists and organizations at the White House today for a ceremonial bill signing and “celebration” of the new law. In a way, it’s not surprising that he’s doing so, given the lack of accomplishments that his administration can point to ahead of the midterms. On the other hand, I don’t expect that most voters are going to care all that much. Most Second Amendment activists panned the legislation when it was approved, and many gun control activists have been grumbling that the legislation didn’t go far enough for their liking; complaints which have lingered even though the bill is now law.
“There’s simply not much to celebrate here,” said Igor Volsky, director of the private group Guns Down America.
“It’s historic, but it’s also the very bare minimum of what Congress should do,” Volsky said. “And as we were reminded by the shooting on July 4, and there’s so many other gun deaths that have occurred since then, the crisis of of gun violence is just far more urgent.”
Volsky’s group, along with other gun violence advocacy groups, was set to host a news conference on Monday outside the White House calling on Biden to stand up a dedicated office at the White House to address gun violence with a greater sense of urgency.
Biden has left gun control policy to his Domestic Policy Council, rather than establishing a dedicated office like he stood up to address climate change or the gender policy council he established to promote reproductive health access.
“We have a president who really hasn’t met the moment, who has chosen to act as a bystander on this issue,” Volsky said. “For some reason the administration absolutely refuses to have a senior official who can drive this issue across government.”
What exactly would a White House Office of Gun Violence do? Not much, to be honest, but several gun control groups have been agitating for Biden to take that step since before he took office hoping that he would elevate their issue by creating a position dedicated solely to their issue in the West Wing.
Most Americans, even those who say that crime or gun violence is one of their top concerns at the moment, don’t really care about the naming of some gun control czar. That’s something that’s far more important to the gun control lobby than the average voter, frankly. Biden and his Democratic allies, on the other hand, do believe that they can use this legislation to not only boost turnout among their base this November, but to portray Republicans as uncaring and unconcerned about crime.
To that end, expect a lot of backhanded compliments during today’s “celebration” towards the 15 Senate Republicans and the dozen-or-so GOP members in the House who voted in favor of the gun deal, and even more calls to “do more” by electing Democrats this fall. With today’s bit of political theater and Kamala Harris once again calling for a ban on so-called assault weapons during her appearance on Face the Nation on Sunday, the Biden administration is clearly hoping that putting gun control front-and-center will blunt the red wave that is coming this fall, but given that anti-gun activists like Volsky and other continue to complain that the White House isn’t doing enough for their liking, that seems like wishful thinking on the part of the gun banner-in-chief.