President Joe Biden has never been afraid to pander. Especially if he can use that pandering to leverage for something else he wants. Take the Pulse shooting, for example.
From the moment he took office, we knew that one of his priorities was going to be gun control. He campaigned on it in the primaries and though the media let it drop from general election discussion, there was never any reason to believe he’d changed his opinion on guns. Recent history showed us that’s correct.
Now, as we approach the anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Biden has a golden opportunity to pander and push for gun control.
President Joe Biden is set to sign a bill that would designate Pulse nightclub a national memorial after dozens were killed there by a gunman in 2016.
“Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the [Pulse] victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose, and who remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind; we must act,” Biden said in the statement. “In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground.
In Saturday’s statement, the president took the time to advocate for gun control, including expanding background checks and banning so-called “assault weapons.”
“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that,” he said. “It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.”
Of course, Biden should recall that the Pulse shooter passed a background check. Most mass shooters actually do. While they tend to have violent histories, they often haven’t been charged with any crimes related to that violent past, thus it never shows up on a background check.
As for turning the site into a national memorial, I can’t help but see it as anything but pandering.
While the Pulse shooting was awful, there’s absolutely no mention of doing the same thing for the Las Vegas shooting location, which was a much worse mass shooting. It’s only because of the LGBT aspect of the attack, yet witnesses have suggested that such an angle was incidental, that the shooter may not have realized it was a gay club. Others suggest otherwise, but that just means there’s really no definitive answer to whether this was a hate crime or just a regular atrocity.
Not that I really think it matters. Evil is evil and, to some degree, acts like this are motivated by hate anyway, even if it’s not something that would be termed a hate crime.
Still, Biden gets to pander to a demographic that’s important to his party and push for gun control in one convenient package. There’s really no other reason to push for this particular thing except to score points with the LGBT crowd and try to blast gun rights supporters in a venue that many would be hesitant to criticize. No one wants to be thought of as homophobic.
The thing is, I can’t help but think turning any mass shooting site into a national memorial, regardless of the motivation for doing so, might be a bad idea. Many of these jackwagons do it for notoriety. Giving them the idea that they might be able to kill enough of a certain group to have their act memorialize might just encourage more acts like this.
Even if the Pulse might not have been motivated by the fact that it was a gay club, but the next attacker might. Especially if it turns out they can get their atrocity memorialized forever.