President Joe Biden is a big fan of gun control. He has been for years, of course, but now that he’s in the White House, there was never any doubt he’d push for more gun control. Especially with the House on his side and a 50/50 split in the Senate.
And he’s lived up to those expectations.
Yet by doing so, he might be causing himself problems come 2022.
President Joe Biden stepped into the gun control debate once again this week, igniting a controversy likely to motivate Republicans to turn out in next year’s midterm elections and produce meaningful legislation in a narrowly Democratic Congress.
Biden has had experience with this in his past. As the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was an architect of the 1994 crime bill signed into law by former President Bill Clinton that included a federal ban on assault weapons. The belief was that suburban voters concerned about violent crime would reward Democrats for cracking down on guns.
Instead, it became a cudgel to beat Democrats in rural and conservative districts during the midterm elections. Guns were among a cluster of issues that helped Republicans win their first House majority in 40 years as they gained 52 seats.
Gun control legislation is often broadly popular, especially in the wake of mass shooting events. The specific proposals Biden has regularly floated, such as expanding background checks and banning certain styles of weapons, often poll well. But conservative gun owners are more likely to cast their votes based on the issue.
An ABC News-Ipsos poll earlier this year showed 57% of voters disapproved of Biden’s handling of gun violence. This included nearly eight in 10 Republicans, most of whom presumably disagree with the president on gun control, as well as one-third of Democrats, who lament the lack of action on the issue.
In other words, while Biden is doing what he said he’d do, and for a lot of people, that’s wrong on every level.
It’s unsurprising that so many Republicans disagree with Biden on gun control, but that so many of his base think he hasn’t done enough isn’t likely to help.
See, for Democrats to do well in the midterms, they need their voters to be excited about going to the polls. If Democratic voters decide it doesn’t matter if they vote or not because Biden’s not going to do what they want him to do, then that sets the stage for a proverbial blood bath in the midterms.
And they’re not pleased.
This is especially true with regard to how Republicans have hammered Democrats with the surge in crime. You’ve got Democrats who want to disarm you while, at the same time, essentially doing nothing about the reason a lot of people have a gun in the first place. It’s not difficult to see how this is going to backfire on Democrats.
Of course, some still think the problem is guns. Yet those same people are typically myopic when it comes to any view that doesn’t have the DNC stamp of approval, so that doesn’t mean much.
The fact of the matter is that America hasn’t changed nearly as much since 1994 as Biden might like to think. A concerted gun control push isn’t going to serve him well, regardless of whether any bills get passed or not.
But he’s welcome to try. The Republican Party should thank him if he does.