President Joe Biden used the third anniversary of the murders at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday to call on Congress to enact his anti-gun agenda, including his gun ban on the most commonly-sold center-fire rifles in America and the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Gun control activists had grown increasingly restless over the Biden administration lack of action on gun control, but senior officials including Susan Rice had met with the heads of major gun control groups during a conference call last week.
In Sunday’s message, Biden said there was “no time to wait,” and urged Congress to impose his ban on modern sporting rifles and ammunition magazines that can hold more than ten rounds, along with a “universal background check” law and repealing the law that prevents junk lawsuits from being filed against the firearms industry.
“For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones,” Biden said.
“Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” he said.
“Over these three years, the Parkland families have taught all of us something profound,” the president continued. “Time and again, they have showed us how we can turn our grief into purpose – to march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and durable movement for change.”
Biden could not let the anniversary of the murder of 17 people in Parkland, Florida go without notice, nor could he help himself from using the anniversary to push his gun control initiatives. It remains to be seen, however, just how serious Biden is about his statement that there is “no time to wait.” Is gun control going to be the administration’s next priority, despite (or maybe because of) the record-setting sales of guns and the millions of Americans who are embracing their Second Amendment rights, or is Biden offering up rhetoric with no plan to follow through?
We’ve already seen a number of gun control bills introduced in Congress over the past few weeks, but so far Biden’s gun ban hasn’t been officially submitted. We’ll be watching closely over the next few days, because if it drops that’s a pretty good sign that Biden is preparing to move forward with his disastrous and unconstitutional anti-rights legislative agenda. In the meantime, your members of Congress need to hear from you. Be polite, be civil, but be clear: hands off our rights.
Of course, not every person who lost a loved on in the shootings has embraced a gun control agenda. Andrew Pollack and Ryan Petty are both fathers who are still grieving the death of their daughters, but they’re not supportive of Biden’s anti-gun agenda. It’s an example of how empty Biden’s rhetoric on unity really is that he completely ignores all those survivors of violence who don’t believe that we can ban our way to safety or that restrictions on our civil rights are the answers to failures of government.
Will Congress respond to Biden’s call to act swiftly on gun control legislation? Once a COVID relief bill has been sent to Biden, I suspect the floodgates of legislation will open, and his gun control agenda may start to move quickly. It remains to be seen whether Democrats would try to advance his bills in one package or as a series of standalone measures, as they did with background checks and a ban on semi-automatic rifles in the last session of Congress. From a political standpoint, it makes the most sense for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to start with a background check bill, which may garner some bi-partisan support.
I think it will still fall short of the 60 votes that are likely needed to pass the Senate, however. Biden’s easiest move to enact at least some of his gun control agenda remains through executive action, and it’s worth noting that while the president called on Congress to enact his anti-gun agenda, today’s statement came with no announcement of any new executive orders dealing with firearms. The one executive order issued today establishes a White House Office on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, not a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention, as gun control groups like March For Our Lives have demanded.