Are Gun Control Advocates Questioning Biden's Resolve On The Issue?

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

President Joe Biden campaigned on gun control. No one has won a presidential election campaigning on gun control to the extent he did. Granted, that was all in the primary, rather than the general election, but that’s just how campaigns work. Especially when the media is apparently on your side and will help cover for you.

His election made gun controllers very, very happy. After all, they finally had one of their own in the White House. It was a glorious time for them.

Then Biden took office, and now they may well be questioning his efforts.

After President Joe Biden’s giant COVID-19 relief bill passed Congress, he made a prime-time address to the nation and presided over a Rose Garden ceremony.

But there wasn’t so much as a statement from the White House after the House passed legislation that would require background checks for gun purchases, a signature Democratic issue for decades.

Biden’s views on gun regulation have evolved along with his party — at one point reluctant to impose too many restrictions that blue-collar Democrats opposed — to a near-unanimous call to do something about gun violence after a spate of mass shootings.

In the early months of Biden’s presidency, even popular proposals like background checks are lower on his list of priorities and their prospects in the Senate cloudy.

While much of Biden’s gun-control agenda is unlikely to win passage in an evenly divided Senate, some of his proposals can be achieved by prioritizing resources within the federal government. Biden has proposed, for instance, directing the FBI to ensure state and local law enforcement agencies are notified if someone who tries to buy a gun fails a background check. He has also said he’ll ask his attorney general to look for ways to better enforce gun laws.

But the Biden administration has yet to signal how the president himself will get engaged. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is looking forward to working with Congress “to advance priorities, including repealing gun manufacturers’ liability shields.” She added that he “will look for opportunities to be engaged” on the background check bills.

Democrats still face political headwinds. A Gallup poll last November found that while 57% of Americans want stricter gun laws, that marked the lowest number in favor since 2016. And gun sales hit a new record high in January, continuing a surge over the past year.

In other words, Biden has done almost nothing except talk, which has a lot of gun control groups concerned. Did he play them?

After all, gun control groups worked hard to get Biden elected, running ads in red states that had nothing at all to do with firearms, in an effort to rally support for the then-future president.

Now that he’s taken office, he’s not doing a whole lot. This despite a spate of executive orders that covered almost everything else on the political spectrum. This is especially problematic for gun control groups because it’s unlikely Democrats will kill the filibuster. Their only hope for action may well be executive orders.

And Biden doesn’t seem to be doing anything but running his mouth on the topic.

Now, for us, this is good news. It’s a lot easier to weather the storm when the storm isn’t actually doing much of anything. The longer it goes on, the easier it’ll be to fight back.

Yet this may also make retaking Congress that much easier. After all, if disheartened anti-gun groups don’t show up in 2022, it’s just one less obstacle in numerous districts around the nation.

 

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Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET