In theory, gun control activists should be one of the few groups of Americans who have something good to say about Joe Biden. After all, he recently announced a new anti-gun nominee to head up the ATF, declared that his administration was going to target the proliferation of “ghost guns”, and even invited a few of their own to take part in the Rose Garden press briefing to detail his plans.
But as the Associated Press reports, this isn’t nearly enough for some members of the gun control lobby, and there’s growing division within the ranks as some try to defend the president while others are demanding more be done.
“I’m just angry,” said David Hogg, a gun safety activist who survived the 2018 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “We took the House and then we took the Senate and now we have the White House, too, and still, nothing is changing.”
Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., whose son was shot to death nearly a decade ago, encouraged those frustrated with the pace of progress to be patient. She likened the fight to reduce gun violence to her parents’ fight for civil rights a generation earlier.
“Change doesn’t come as quickly as we ever want it to happen. Because understand, this is a culture that we’re having to change,” McBath said in an interview. “I know that we’re making real progress on this issue. The fact that I am actually in Washington, and I was elected in Georgia with a gun violence policy agenda … tells you there is progress.”
I know it’s become de rigueur to knock David Hogg’s intellectual capacities, but I am truly amazed that a Harvard student like Hogg can’t understand the simple electoral math at work in Congress. As it turns out, his “we” didn’t take the Senate, and in the house the margins for gun control bills vary from a dozen-or-so on bills like universal background checks to “zero” for bills trying to ban so-called assault weapons, which haven’t even been brought up for a vote by Nancy Pelosi this year.
More importantly, Hogg is either unaware or refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden wasn’t elected president on the basis of his gun control convictions. He’s president today because he’s not Donald Trump, period. What’s more, if you look at current polls, Democrats are likely going to control of the House this fall, and could easily lose the Senate as well.
In fact, while McBath pointed to herself as an example of the slow and steady progress gun control activists are making, there’s no guarantee that McBath will be back in Congress next year. As the AP points out, McBath and Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux are both now competing for the same seat after the congressional lines were redrawn earlier this year. Only one of the Democrats will be on the ballot in the deep-blue district this fall, and right now it’s anyone’s guess as to who will emerge victorious.
There’s another problem when it comes to Democrats and gun control, though it goes overlooked in the AP story. While support for more gun control has become an almost entirely Democratic phenomenon, there is also a substantial part of the left that views most gun control laws as part of a much bigger problem with the criminal justice system and policing. Some of those Democrats may truly be supportive of the Second Amendment, while others may want laws targeting gun makers and sellers instead of gun owners, but the divisions are real and I believe they’re also having an impact on the effectiveness of the gun control movement.
For the most part, however, the gun control movement has been able gloss over the divisions by adopting an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach. Community violence intervention measures that don’t involve police? Sure! New non-violent possessory offenses that will be enforced by local, state, and federal police? Absolutely! With millions of new gun owners over the past two years, support for new gun laws declining, and the continued growth of pro-2A movements like Constitutional Carry, they’ll take whatever they can get at this point.
Meanwhile, gun safety groups like March For Our Lives are ratcheting up pressure on Democrats to take action. The group for the first time is backing primary challenges this spring and summer to Democratic incumbents who haven’t prioritized the issue.
On Tuesday, Hogg and other young activists with March For Our Lives dropped body bags outside Schumer’s New York office to protest his unwillingness to bring gun safety legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.
“Democrats suck at fulfilling these promises,” Hogg said.
And gun control sucks at fulfilling the promise of a safer society, so I guess it all balances out in the end.
I do have to admit I’m looking forward to seeing March For Our Lives’ list of primary endorsements, as well as how those candidates fare against Democrat incumbents. We’ll see what happens, but my guess is that Hogg & Co are only going to reveal how little impact they’ve actually had on the political process, despite the fawning attention they’ve received from the press and the liberal glitterati.