Biden Pushes Gun Control During Address To Congress

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

President Joe Biden has been a crusader for gun control for years. No one with any sense expected him to do any differently in the White House.

After all, he campaigned on his gun control credentials during the Democratic primary and while he may not have talked about it during the general election–it seems the media wasn’t interested in asking about it then–the topic never left its prominent place on his website.

There was never any doubt he’d push it.

With last night’s address to Congress, you had to know it was coming up, too. Of course, it did.

Saying he didn’t want to “become confrontational,” Biden also said more Republicans need to join Democrats to improve background checks for gun purchases.

Biden urges Congress to act on gun safety: ‘Don’t tell me it can’t be done’

President Joe Biden repeated his calls for Congress to pass measures to expand background checks for gun buyers and to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, legislation championed by Biden that enshrined federal protections and support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The act would close the “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers, he said. Biden pointed out it’s estimated more than 50 women are shot and killed by a partner every month in America.

“Pass it and save lives,” Biden said.

Biden also urged Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“Don’t tell me it can’t be done. We’ve done it before – and it worked,” he said. “I don’t want to become confrontational, but we need more Senate Republicans to join with the overwhelming majority of their Democratic colleagues, and close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun.”

The problem isn’t that it can’t be done, but that it shouldn’t be done.

The so-called boyfriend loophole has an incredible potential for abuse and universal background checks are one of those things that polls well, but when people start to realize what’s in the bills, that support evaporates. That’s because people tend to be OK with these rules for other people, but not for them. Once they realize their judgement is what’s questioned, they take it personally.

Biden to turn up pressure on Congress to act on gun violence

Among the issues President Joe Biden will raise during his address to a joint session of Congress is the need to act on gun violence prevention legislation, according to a White House official.

The president is expected to repeat his calls for Congress to pass two House bills that strengthen background checks for gun buyers and reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines – a measure he helped pass as a senator in 1994.

The comments come weeks after Biden declared gun violence an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” as he announced six executive actions that cracked down on the use of so-called ghost guns, or untraceable weapons that can be constructed from parts purchased online.

Though none of what Biden will say is new, gun safety advocates say his decision to discuss gun safety in his first joint address signals to Congress that it has a responsibility to break the political stalemate and that gun violence prevention remains a top priority in the White House.

Of course, this is nothing we didn’t expect from the start.

First, assault weapons are scary to those who are unfamiliar with them, but they account for only a tiny fraction of all firearm fatalities. By focusing his attentions there, it’s clear that all Biden is worried about is what looks good, not overall firearm violence.

Not that he should be looking at other forms of gun control, mind you, only that if he really believes gun control is the solution, he’s looking in the wrong place.

As for Biden signaling anything to Congress, much less that they should “break the political stalemate,” someone hasn’t been paying attention to politics over the last decade or so. The fact that a Democratic president wants something doesn’t elevate a policy position to a point where the opposition is going to piss off a huge swath of their base over it.

If anything, they’re going to hunker down and oppose it more vehemently.

And that’s precisely what we expect out of Republicans right now. I don’t expect new pro-gun legislation right now. I expect them to hold the line, and that’s what they’re doing.

The fact that Biden wants them to push more gun control doesn’t change that, nor should it. Especially since we know Biden isn’t remotely interested in expanding gun rights in any other direction. Why should we be the ones who have to keep giving up stuff?

Then again, with what’s being asked for, I don’t know that there’s anything he could give us that would make an assault weapon ban look palatable.

Aug 03, 2021 9:30 PM ET
Aug 03, 2021 4:30 PM ET