While the 2020 elections didn’t necessarily go the way Democrats had hoped–no much-anticipated “blue wave” to speak of–they do stand to hold significant power in the government come January. After all, unless the courts intervene, Joe Biden will become president, giving Democrats the White House. The party also has a slim majority in the House and may potentially see a split Senate with Kamala Harris representing the tie-breaking vote.
For the Biden administration, which has made its anti-gun ambitions quite clear, it would seem to be almost tailor-made for him.
However, any such efforts aren’t necessarily the slam dunks they might outwardly appear to be.
The items on the agenda — largely relegated to the political shelf in recent years — include renewing a ban on AR-style rifles, universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and a federal red flag law designed to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing a firearm.
But virtually all of those will require Congress to act. And regardless the outcome in two Senate races in Georgia that will determine which party holds the majority in that chamber, it will be a tall order to get a majority of lawmakers on board.
One key reason is because the issues have become so polarized. Years ago, gun politics crossed party lines, and it was easier for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground.
“It used to be a cross-cutting issue, there used to be Democrats that were very pro-gun and Democratic legislators who won districts in part on their pro-gun views,” said Matt Grossmann, an associate professor at Michigan State University and director of its Institute for Public Policy and Social Research who follows gun politics. “And you just don’t have that anymore.”
That’s certainly true, but you do have Democrats who have to downplay their anti-gun views. If they’re the deciding vote on something like a new assault weapon ban, they’ll have to answer to their constituencies. It’ll make them extremely vulnerable and plenty of them know it.
Sure, the New York City crowd won’t care one bit, nor will the Chicago contingent, but those representing suburban or semi-rural areas might just be concerned about the reckoning.
There’s a reason Biden is looking to start off with executive action on guns first and foremost. It’s likely because he knows what an uphill slog any legislation will be.
Don’t get me wrong, though. There will be legislative attempts made. We can’t just assume it won’t pass or that Biden won’t really even bother. Oh no, there will be an effort made.
We just need to make sure the fight is more than Biden and company can handle.