Chris Murphy: Biden believes gun control is his ticket back to the White House

AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Earlier this week we spoke with journalist John Crump about the ATF’s next rumored action on guns; going after private sales. As Crump has reported, the Biden administration plans on using language from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to declare that anyone deriving a profit from gun sales needs to be a federally licensed firearms dealer, and now CNN has confirmed that is indeed the next bit of executive branch gun control that will be coming out of the White House.


Long sought by gun safety advocates, the executive action, which Biden set in motion in March, would expand the definition of which gun sellers are required to comply with federal licensing and background check requirements. It is seen by both proponents and opponents as the most that can be done toward establishing universal background checks without new legislation. While it may be approved in the coming days, White House aides are already planning a larger event to officially announce it with the president going into the fall, with more campaign-related events centered on guns likely as well.

Since Barack Obama was president, gun safety advocates have been pushing for the new executive action that Biden is about to announce. Known as the “engaged in the business” rule, it would expand requirements for many who have to date said they were selling only as hobbyists or from their personal collections, requiring them to get dealer licenses and run background checks on potential buyers.

The action, pending a standard internal review since Biden put it in motion in March that White House officials have been nudging along behind the scenes, “cuts to the heart of what we’ve been talking about in the gun safety movement for over a decade,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence.

More than that, Ambler added, “it connects with voters both left and middle in a very commonsense way, and when communicated right, it is a clear-cut example of the president taking action on gun safety.”


Or, when it’s effectively communicated by opponents, it’s yet another clear-cut example of the president taking action against gun owners instead of violent criminals. The CNN report makes clear that Biden plans on going big on gun control as one of his major campaign themes in 2024, and will try to portray the fight over these laws as Republicans fighting for guns versus Democrats fighting for safety.

Biden is “angrier about the disconnect between where the country is and where Washington is on this issue more than almost any other issue,” said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who led the Democratic negotiations for the bipartisan gun bill and has stayed in close contact with the president since.

Biden’s feelings are authentic, and tend to come quickly pouring out, Murphy said, but that also comes with a political sensibility.

“He buys the notion that Democrats screwed things up for a long time by being afraid of talking about this issue,” Murphy said. “Many of us believe that this issue can be our ticket back to the House majority and to a big electoral win. And Biden is part of that group.”

Gun safety advocates also have been pressing Biden advisers and other Democrats setting strategy for 2024 to see even another political benefit: they have polling and focus group findings they say shows that reminding voters of Republican resistance to gun control efforts largely negates the Republican polling advantage in talking about a rise in crime.

“If you really want to ask the question, ‘Who’s putting police in harm’s way?’, it’s Republicans who oppose gun safety measures as common sense as background checks,” said John Feinblatt, president of the Everytown for Gun Safety, who has been among the people pointing to these numbers. “The issue wasn’t about defunding the police, the issue was really about harming police. And Republicans have to own that.”

Feinblatt also cited a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from April that showed 54% of Americans say either they or a family member has had direct experience with gun violence.

“Suddenly things that were once commonplace – like going to church or going to school or going to the mall or going to a concert – now you have to do a risk analysis,” Feinblatt said.


And they say that we’re the fearmongers.

The truth is that violent crime is trending down across much of the country, though in Democratic strongholds like Washington, D.C. homicides are still trending upwards; something that can hardly be blamed on a lack of gun control laws in the District. As crime analyst Jeff Asher recently reported, homicides nationally have declined 12% so far this year compared to 2022, and violent crime overall appears to have dipped by 1.5%. The increases he’s seeing are in property crime, at least in most big cities, which cuts against the Democrats’ argument that more gun laws are necessary to improve public safety.

A 6 percent increase in property crime doesn’t sound like much, but property crime nationally fell 19 straight years between 2003 and 2021 and in 28 of the last 30 years — 2022 data is not yet available. Any increase in property crime would represent a reversal of the long term trend.

It isn’t hard to pinpoint what is driving the increase in property crime: auto thefts. Auto thefts began rising in July 2022 and there is not a ton of evidence that these crimes have started to fall yet. Auto thefts in the sample are up an astounding 42 percent this year relative to last year with an increase occurring in 33 of the 42 available cities. Removing auto thefts from the property crime counts in the 42 city sample would change the YTD difference in property crimes from +6 percent to -2.6 percent.

Interestingly, according to Asher’s data four of the nine cities where property crime is trending down are located in permitless carry states, while only one of the nine cities with the largest increases in property crime are found in Constitutional Carry states.


Democrats are convinced that gun control is going to help them win big in 2024, and crafting a false narrative about gun owners, the Second Amendment, and violent crime is a key part of their campaign strategy. Second Amendment supporters and Republican candidates not only have to stand up for our right to keep and bear arms (including in self-defense), but we have to make a concerted effort between now and next November to point out the public safety failures of the left and the Biden administration specifically, including the lack of prosecutions for violations of existing gun laws and their desire to turn lawful gun owners into felons on paper through regulatory and legislative action whenever and wherever they think they can get away with it.

We also have to present voters with public safety alternatives to unconstitutional and ineffective gun control laws; policies and programs that can have a real impact on public safety without infringing on anyone’s civil rights as Biden’s anti-gun supporters demand. We can’t expect the courts to win these fights for us. In next year’s elections, the court of public opinion will matter at least as much as courts of law, and we have to push back against the anti-gun lies, shine a spotlight on the failures of gun control, and provide proven solutions if we’re going to defend our rights and make our communities safer places to live, work, and raise a family.


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