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The presence of gun violence in the US has increased significantly in recent years. However, gun reform remains a highly partisan topic as Republicans and Democrats maintain their radically opposing beliefs (Fonseca, 2022). Recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, have sparked further discussion on the need for strict gun laws. President Joe Biden has, over the years, maintained a position on the need for effective gun control laws. Joe Biden supports the implementation of strict gun control policies; however, challenges persist due to disagreement among the Republicans and Democrats.
Joe Biden’s Plan to End Gun Violence Epidemic
Biden’s position on strict gun control laws can be traced back to when he was a senator and vice president. He understands that gun violence is a serious public health crisis (Democratic National Committee, 2020). Nearly 40,000 Americans die yearly from gun injuries, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries emanate from mass shootings that have recently made national headlines. Others occur to daily actions of suicides and gun violence that, although they may not make headlines, are just as devastating to the community (Democratic National Committee, 2020). In his quest to end gun violence, Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won twice. In 1993, Biden shepherded via Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The Act established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million guns out of dangerous hands. Similarly, in 1994, Biden, along with Senator Dianne Feinstein, secured the passage of a 10-year ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines (Democratic National Committee, 2020).
Moreover, Biden has critical of reducing gun violence through executive actions. For example, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012, President Obama tasked him with developing executive actions and legislative proposals to make Americans safer (Democratic National Committee, 2020). Due to these efforts, the Obama-Biden Administration took more measures like narrowing the gun show loophole, increasing funding for mental health care, and increasing the number of records in the background check system.
As the current president, Biden has maintained his impassioned plea for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in America. Recently, in an emotional speech broadcast live on national television, he called on Congress to ban assault weapons and raise the age to be a gun owner from 18 to 21 (Bustillo, 2022). Moreover, he also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines, red flag laws, background checks, and a repeal of the community that protects gun manufacturers from legal liability if their firearms are used in violence. These remarks came after the 233rd mass shooting in the country this year in Tulsa, Oklahoma. that caused deaths at Saint Francis Hospital (Bustillo, 2022). The attack came a week after 19 students and two teachers were killed, and 17 others were injured at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. It also came two weeks after ten people were killed and three others were wounded following a racist assault at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
In his address, Biden claimed that American schools and many other places had become battlefields and killing fields. According to him, the issue of gun violence is one of common sense and consciousness (The White House, 2022). He insisted on not intending to take people’s guns or vilify gun owners. In his speech, the president cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Center (CDC) study that guns were the main cause of death among American children (Bustillo, 2022). More school children have died from gun violence in the last two decades compared to on-duty officers and active-duty military combined.
In the current political climate, the president has few realistic options to pursue gun control without congressional support. While Democrats have the majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate is divided, with each party holding 50 seats (Millis, 2022). For any law to be enacted without a filibuster, 10 Republican Senators would need to vote in favor of it. Furthermore, Biden’s efforts are derailed by powerful advocacy groups. In response to his remarks, the NRA, the powerful lobby group that offers financial support to some politicians, argued that Biden’s proposals were not functional measures and real solutions that would decrease crime and help Americans with adverse behavioral health problems.
Furthermore, the NRA revealed that Biden’s proposals would infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens. Over the years, Republicans and some Democrats have blocked strict gun control laws even after deadly mass shootings (Millis, 2022). Without congressional action, executive action is impacted. For example, Biden has signed several executive orders that address ghost guns and braces on AR-15 pistols. However, such laws can be undone based on the bipartisan view on gun control laws.
Other agencies criticize the head of state for failing to address gun violence. For example, Guns Down America and some families of gun violence victims criticized the president for not taking more aggressive measures to lobby Congress or reform laws (Bustillo, 2022). Some critics say Americans want the president to enact effective executive orders. As a Senator, Biden established the assault weapons ban, which was in place for a decade until 2004.
Over the years, Biden has maintained a position on strict gun control laws as a senator, a vice president, and the current president. Some of these measures include a ban on assault weapons, raising the age of gun ownership from 18 to 21, red flag laws, background checks, and a repeal of the community that safeguards the manufacturers of guns from legal liability if their firearms are used in violence. Nonetheless, his policies experience a divided political climate impacting the passage of effective gun control laws.
We can do it today.
- Fonseca, C. (2022). American Gun Violence: A Cause to Combat the Epidemic.
- Democratic National Committee. (2020, October 12). Joe Biden’s plan to end gun violence | Joe Biden for president. Joe Biden for President: Official Campaign Website. https://joebiden.com/gunsafety/#.
- Bustillo, X. (2022, June 2). President Biden calls for an assault weapons ban and other measures to curb gun violence. NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2022/06/02/1102660499/biden-gun-control-speech-congress.
- Millis, L. (2022, June 3). ‘Enough’: Biden tells lawmakers to pass gun control laws. Breaking News, World News, and Video from Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/6/3/enough-biden-tells-lawmakers-to-pass-gun-control-laws.
- The White House. (2022, June 3). Remarks by President Biden on gun violence in America. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/06/02/remarks-by-president-biden-on-gun-violence-in-america/.