A year ago, advocates for gun violence prevention believed that the Biden administration would make headway on gun control but were disillusioned and enraged during his first year in office.
The United States recorded a total of 44,868 gun-related deaths during Joe Biden’s first year as president in 2021.
There were 15,727 fatalities in 2017, the first year of former President Donald Trump’s reign.
Republicans, backed by gun lobbyists, have generally rejected any curbs on weapons. This is despite Democrats’ history of apparently supporting tighter gun control and judicial reforms.
However, observers argue that Trump’s departure produced a poisonous climate that ended in a record number of handgun purchases and a divided society.
He also profited from an extreme worldview, which, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center, has culminated in an explosion in white militias that advocate for the use of violence to attain their nefarious aims.
Trump blamed video games, the internet, and psychological condition for two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in 2019, but not weaponry, which claimed at least 31 lives and injured 53 others in less than 24 hours.
Even though proponents believe Biden’s response to the November Michigan school shooting, in which a high school student opened fire and killed four classmates, was a wasted chance, and their faith was further stripped away when the White House candidate to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) withdrew.
“David Chipman’s reluctance to be confirmed was very definitely the largest setback to government efforts to solve the epidemic of gun violence,” Ambler of Giffords, where Chipman is a senior policy consultant, said.
Chipman, a former ATF agent, claimed he got death threats and that the White House failed to give adequate help while the Senate was contemplating his nomination.
According to leaders of significant gun reform groups, Biden’s first year in the Oval Office, with Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, was meant to bring in an unprecedented era of progress on the challenging subject. Many now predict that the Democrats will lose House and Senate seats in the midterm elections and that Biden may be out of time.
The United States President and Congress have failed to approve any substantial legislation changing the country’s firearms rules. “I am fairly positive that I have not heard anything,” Igor Volsky, chairman of the gun control advocacy group Guns Down America, stated. I am convinced that I have not witnessed anything.”
Trump’s critics agree that he drew on ideas that Republicans in Congress could adopt without confronting powerful gun lobbyists or restricting civilian access to weapons, effectively allowing civilians to remain armed and paving the way for future shootings and mass shootings, which have increased at an all-time high rate in the last year.
Biden, however, pledged during the campaign to take concrete steps on the issue, including prohibiting the online sale of firearms and ammunition, capping the number of firearms a person can purchase in a month, and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers from lawsuits.
Despite efforts, the Republican majority in Congress has prevented any of Biden’s promised measures from being adopted.
Biden’s measure to enhance background checks on handgun purchases has languished, as have attempted to prohibit assault-style weapons, which Biden pledged during his campaign.
The fundamental objective of gun control proponents is to guarantee that potential gun buyers undergo background checks. This measure had a decent chance of passing in a Democratic-controlled Congress. However, Republican hostility to a House proposal has stalled it in the Senate.
“Republicans are hoping that the public will become desensitized to catastrophic incidents, allowing them to evade electoral consequences,” said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat and fervent advocate of background checks.
Republicans are not just to blame for the nation’s condition. Senate Democrats share credit for inventing the filibuster, a Senate practice that required a supermajority of 60 votes to move the majority of legislation.
According to opponents, Biden has not placed enough pressure on Senate Democrats to vote on the idea or establish real filibuster limits.
“I do not see [gun reform] coming unless and until the filibuster is gone,” says Alex Barrio, executive director of the Center for American Progress think tank and campaign.
Murphy, a congressman from Newtown, Connecticut, before becoming one of the Senate’s most passionate proponents of gun reform, feels Senate Democrats need a more aggressive campaign.
The Senate, on the other hand, is dysfunctional. I am seeking serious conversations about reinstalling the Senate so that we can have meaningful debates on key subjects, and those who desire to filibuster may do so.”
Biden has concentrated his efforts on less controversial themes rather than appealing with Democrats to reform Senate processes. Progress has been wobbly even so, and Biden’s reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker has risen.
Biden has backed two senators’ efforts to pass legislation to decrease police shootings. Still, even that effort has stagnated as the president concentrates on infrastructure and his “Build Back Better” push.
“They negotiated in good faith, and it is terrible that they failed,” says Marc Levin, co-founder of Right on Crime and a conservative reform advocate.
According to his detractors, Biden would utilize executive authority to push his agenda in areas where Congress is gridlocked. Biden is thought to be mulling the approach, but with caution or disinterest. Concerns have been voiced concerning Biden’s use of the executive branch’s full power to prevent gun violence, which some say displays a lack of leadership.
Additionally, observers argue that, despite some attempts to sidestep Congress, the president has failed to establish an atmosphere favorable to fighting gun violence in the White House.
“Having it at the White House would aid increase awareness of the problem… and give someone a daily focus on it,” says gun control advocate Dr. Joseph Sakran.
Nonetheless, the National Rifle Association, a formidable lobbying group committed to protecting the right to carry guns, has persuaded several notable American senators throughout consecutive US administrations.
The NRA’s membership has eclipsed all prior records, and many politicians on the lobbyists’ payroll are zealous about keeping those votes.
M4OL, founded by survivors of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, published a statement.
“On the president’s birthday, after one of our country’s most violent years, we must ask the president directly: Mr. President, have you done enough?” The young survivors are considering their next line of action.
Nikolas Cruz, a former Parkland High School student, went on a rampage in 2018 with an AR-15-style semi-automatic military assault rifle, killing 17 and injuring 17.
These atrocities, along with others, have sparked widespread calls for limitations on gun sales and ownership, but Congress has stayed mute for decades.
Even campaigners realize the political difficulties that will almost surely increase gun violence in the United States.
“Any government striving to do enough in that scenario is incredibly challenging,” says Peter Ambler, executive director and co-founder of the gun control organization Giffords.