There’s one more possible reason why Biden has been slow to act on his legislative gun control agenda; he knows it’s a political loser. Biden witnessed the political aftermath of his 1994 gun ban, and I’m sure he still has a few memories of his Democratic colleagues going down to defeat in the 94 midterms still rattling around his cobweb-filled brain. Imagine the political devastation that would come from using a 51-50 vote to enact a far broader ban on the American public, all while gun sales are at record highs, concealed carry applications are soaring, and millions of Americans are embracing their Second Amendment rights for the first time in their lives.
Contrast that with younger activists, who are far more interested in preventing “gun violence” without getting the police involved.
“We have incidents where there’s three or four people getting shot [daily] and we don’t get the same kind of uproar and attention for those kinds of homicides and mainly because they’re Black and brown people,” said Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of the progressive Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago chapter, who has spoken to the White House.
Earlier this month, Heartland was among the coalition of organizations representing communities of color which sent a letter to the Biden administration expressing disappointment that they were not included in a gathering the White House held with more establishment gun control groups. According to four people who were involved in recent meetings, the White House moved quickly to rectify the situation and has since held at least two virtual calls with advocates from groups across the country.
Bocanegra said he was happy with the audience he received at the White House. But he still expressed frustration that white-led gun control groups appeared to be getting more attention after he had spent days helping the Biden transition on policy.
“I want to see my return on that investment,” he said.
Well, Eddie, I’ve got some bad news for you. You may have spent days helping the Biden transition on policy, but Michael Bloomberg, who funds the biggest white-led gun control group out there, spent tens of millions of dollars to get Biden elected, and he wants to see a return on his investment too.
I suspect that the White House is trying to figure out a way to please both dynamics in the gun control/gun violence prevention movement, but are wrestling with the fact that the two sides are fundamentally opposed to each other’s tactics, though they may be aligned with the end goal of a country with fewer guns and fewer gun owners.
Personally, I don’t have any issue with violence reduction programs that don’t seek to put new gun laws on the books. I have my own opinions about what programs actually are the most effective, but I don’t think that most Second Amendment supporters would object to federal grants going to “violence interrupters” or programs like Project Ceasefire and Project Exit. It’s the idea of putting new laws on the books that criminalize our right to keep and bear arms that we object to, for two reasons.
First, we have a constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, and that right isn’t based on our zip code, population density, personal income, or what political party is in control of our state, local, and federal governments.
Secondly, because we know that the research has proven that most violent crime in a given community is committed by a very small number of people, the idea of banning our way to safety through sweeping gun control laws that target legal gun owners and calling it “common sense” is laughable. Some of the cities with the highest crime rates in the nation also have some of the most restrictive gun control laws on the books, and the people who are harmed the most are the good people living in bad neighborhoods who are denied their right to protect themselves and their families.
Having said all that, I do believe that we’re very near the point of Biden unveiling at least a few executive orders on gun control, including his attempt to ban the sale of unfinished frames and receivers without a background check. The anti-gun natives are growing restless and the anti-gun lawmakers in Congress are warning that time is already running out. Biden has to act soon to soothe their agitation. The real question isn’t when he’ll act, but what he’ll do when he does.
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