Activists Call on Biden to Take Greater Action on Gun Violence
Survivors and gun violence prevention activists have expressed displeasure with Biden's failure to follow through on his campaign pledges to reduce gun violence.
In light of David Chipman's nomination to lead the ATF being held up in the Senate, the groups asked Biden to establish a White House office led by an aide who would not require Senate confirmation, similar to Biden's White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Biden agreed to establish the office.
They also urged Biden to utilize his political capital to persuade legislators to enact gun legislation, as well as his bully pulpit, to persuade Americans to support changes.
In a letter sent to Biden Wednesday, four advocacy groups complained that his actions on guns “fall significantly short of the promises you yourself made while running for the presidency” and have not been a priority as 28,000 Americans died from gun violence this year.
In light of the increasing number of gun fatalities and the increased danger of armed political extremism, gun violence can no longer be considered a secondary concern.
“Your administration is hard at work pursuing important priorities from infrastructure reform to reducing the disastrous impacts of climate change,” according to the letter obtained by POLITICO. “But with rising gun deaths and the heightened threat of armed political extremism, gun violence can no longer be seen as a back burner issue.”
Survivors Empowered, founded after the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting in 2012, is seeking a meeting with White House officials and has vowed to continue to press Biden to live up to his promise. Guns Down America, which was formed after the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in 2018, March for Our Lives, which was formed after the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in 2018, March for Our Lives, which was formed in the wake of the 2012 school shooting in Connecticut.
“When he wants to get things done, he does it. We've seen the infrastructure proposals, the Covid relief plan … So I think it's really up to him to get moving on these things.”
Igor Volsky, executive director of the advocacy group Guns Down America, said…
“The White House should be ashamed of the fact that those of us working on this issue every single day cannot with certainty tell you how the administration is going about implementing the promises this president made.”
“That's just not how an administration for whom gun violence is a priority behaves.”
As a candidate for president, Biden pledged to address a wide range of policy problems within his first 100 days in office, including gun violence, immigration reform, and police reform.
He has, however, fallen short of expectations in those areas after just seven months in office, as he battles the Covid epidemic, tries to persuade Congress to approve his big expenditure plans, and more lately, deals with the Afghanistan situation.
Some activists are concerned that they will not be able to increase voter participation in the next midterm elections due to a lack of policy achievements on some of their most important concerns in the coming year.
“We went to bat for him during the 2020 elections because he put forth the strongest gun violence prevention platform in modern history … We need the president to take action,” said Po Murray, who chairs the Newtown Action Alliance. “We want to be able to drive voter turnout on this, and it's going to be really challenging if we don't have any wins.”
According to White House spokesperson Mike Gwin, “President Biden has spent his career fighting for common-sense gun violence prevention measures and has delivered — including by defeating the National Rifle Association to establish federal background checks and pass a 10-year ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
”The president has brought that commitment to the White House, where he has taken decisive action to carry out his agenda, including by toughening regulations on ghost guns, developing a comprehensive gun crime strategy that invests in law enforcement and community solutions, and stepping up enforcement efforts against illegal gun traffickers.”
In his first year as president, the president talked about the need to reduce violence on many occasions, notably in a high-profile speech to a joint session of Congress in April and when he announced executive measures in April and June this year.
As part of his plan to prevent community violence, he announced plans to require buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or makeshift firearms that do not have serial numbers — to submit to background checks and to regulate concealed assault-style firearms, as well as to dedicate money to the effort.
In addition, he has requested an additional $750 million in funding for federal law enforcement in his proposed budget proposal.
The problem is being worked on by a senior team of officials in the Domestic Policy Council, but not solely.
According to the four anti-gun violence organizations, this is insufficient.
Assault weapons bans, high-capacity magazines restrictions, and background checks expansion are reforms that the president has spoken out in favor of during his tenure as president. They also argue that the president should support ending the filibuster for legislation to pass more easily through the Senate's evenly divided chamber.
According to a White House official, the White House has publicly and privately encouraged legislators to support the president's agenda and Chipman's confirmation as Secretary of the Interior.
On the other hand, Chipman's candidacy is in jeopardy after Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who is also a member of the Democratic caucus, sent a signal to the Biden administration and his Democratic colleagues that he does not support the candidate.
As a result of pressure from gun rights organizations in his state, notably the Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine, King has decided to reject Chipman's nomination.