Biden Facing Criticism Again: Gun Safety Advocates Demand Action…

Biden Facing Criticism Again: Gun Safety Advocates Demand Action

A coalition of major gun-control organisations is urging President Joe Biden to appoint a gun-control czar and declare a national emergency to combat gun violence. They also want actual policy suggestions that go beyond his pointless pleas to Congress for an assault weapons prohibition.

The groups are ramping up the pressure campaign ahead of the president’s State of the Union address next week, according to a letter to Biden acquired first by HEADLINESFOREVER. The coalition of 117 organisations also demanded that the White House outline how it intends to implement the historic gun legislation put into law by the president last year.

“For a president who campaigned on one of the most comprehensive gun violence prevention strategies in probably American history, who has repeatedly stated that he will do everything in his power to help solve this crisis, he’s simply left too many solutions on the table,” said Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, one of the main signers. “He has a real obligation to keep his commitments, to keep his word, and to do everything he can to make progress.”

The coalition’s letter, which is also led by Brady United, Community Justice Action Fund, March for Our Lives, and Newtown Action Alliance, exemplifies the breadth of issues that the president will be pressed to address during this year’s State of the Union address, which comes at the halfway point of his first term. It also demonstrates how progressive-leaning institutions aren’t satisfied to let Biden rest on his laurels as he prepares for a possible reelection bid.

The coalition’s current push comes in the wake of a string of mass shootings. However, it is reminiscent of the early days of Biden’s presidency, when many of the same groups addressed the president a letter describing executive actions they desired, disappointed that he had not come out as vigorously as he promised on the campaign path.

“We’re circulating another letter two years later,” said Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance. “We want Biden to address this and tell the world how he intends to address it.”

The Biden administration has made unprecedented strides on gun policy. The president has taken numerous executive initiatives, and his government has made significant investments in neighbourhood violence intervention. And, in the aftermath of back-to-back shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, in 2022, the White House collaborated with a bipartisan coalition in Congress to pass the first gun legislation in nearly three decades. That agreement, signed by Biden in June, strengthened background checks for youth gun buyers, assisted states in enacting red flag laws, and kept firearms out of the hands of more domestic violence offenders. The next month, the Senate confirmed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ first director since 2013.

Earlier this month, the government published a new rule tightening limits on weapons with stabilising braces, which are often used by shooters in Boulder, Colorado, and Dayton, Ohio. The White House did not reply to calls for comment on the president’s next policy initiatives, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated last week that Biden’s team would continue to look into executive action options.

“We’ll continue to explore executive actions to prevent gun violence,” Jean-Pierre said, stressing she didn’t have “anything right now to share or preview.” She noted the administration is continually striving to find methods “to deal with an issue, again, that is devastating communities across the country. But let me be really clear here. We need Congress to act in order to deal with this.”

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 41 mass shootings in 2023 in which four or more people were injured or killed. At least 69 individuals have been slain, not including the others who have died this month as a result of other acts of gun violence or firearm suicide. With a divided Congress, the gun-control coalition contends that Biden has a greater obligation to share the weight of reform — and they believe that he has options on the table.

The groups urged Biden to prioritise the execution of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which he signed into law more than six months ago, including using the federal statute described in the legislation to target gun traffickers. They also urged the administration to guarantee that FBI agents are adequately educated in performing background checks on individuals under the age of 21.

The letter also requested that the administration close the background check loophole by defining who is deemed “involved in the business” of selling firearms. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act modernised federal law by requiring anybody who sells firearms for a profit to be licenced. According to the group, the ATF might clarify who qualifies as a firearms dealer and, as a result, who must conduct background checks on gun buyers by publishing a new rule.

Much of Biden’s rhetoric on firearms has centred on his desire to revive the assault weapons ban, which he helped pass as a senator in 1994 but which expired in 2004.

However, Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, which delivered its own brief to the White House on Monday, said the ban’s narrow emphasis lessens the need to discuss other important issues such as background check loopholes and the need for investment in community violence reduction.

“Because when you simply mention assault weapons, honestly, you just think about mass shootings. But gun safety solutions are equally crucial to combating crime, intervening in cycles of community violence, addressing suicide, and more,” Ambler explained. Similarly, the coalition’s letter requested that the president utilise his authority “to highlight the scope of this catastrophe.”

Though the president does not appear to have the votes in Congress for an assault weapons ban, the groups argue that Biden has tools at his disposal to further limit the proliferation of these guns in the United States, including fully enforcing the importation ban on foreign-made assault weapons that do not have a “sporting purpose.” As Giffords notes in its memo, the ATF, which oversees gun importation in the United States, “has not conducted a comprehensive review of semiautomatic weapons.”

The groups are also looking for a White House leader to manage this activity. According to Ambler, the White House, Department of Justice, and ATF are currently working in silos and might benefit from increased capability and collaboration between agencies.

Susan Rice, who heads the White House Domestic Control Council and is responsible for a wide range of problems, is often regarded as the go-to person on gun policy. Stefanie Feldman, a White House policy adviser, also works intensively on the topic. Tuesday’s letter specifically requests that the president establish a federal office of gun violence prevention, which would ensure that someone is “driving this issue every single day,” according to Volsky, who has repeatedly urged the White House to place a gun-policy portfolio under the purview of a cabinet-level aide.

“They have plainly failed thus far,” he remarked. “And so, in light of all the recent tragedies, we’re taking this occasion to urge him not just to ask Congress to do something, but also to do something personally.”

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