WASHINGTON – Gun control advocates stood up against President Biden on Friday for suggesting the day before that gun legislation would not be his next priority, even after two mass shootings in a week.
Mr Biden first said Tuesday that he did not have to “wait another minute” to tackle the gun violence epidemic and called on the Senate to pass a ban on assault weapons and fill loopholes in the background check.
But on Thursday, at the first official press conference of his presidency, Mr Biden left gun control advocates speechless and disappointed when he said the key to the legislature’s success is prioritization and that infrastructure – not guns – next on his list.
“I’m disappointed that he has the nerve and the audacity to say he’ll do things in sequential order,” said Maisha Fields, vice president of Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit group. “It’s not okay to bury your child. It’s not okay to buy eggs and disturb your life.”
At his press conference, Mr. Biden was specifically asked about his plans to promote arms legislation or apply executive measures on the issue. In response, he turned to a detailed explanation of why infrastructure was a higher priority for him.
For some, the answer has been a pragmatic approach by a president dealing with crises on multiple fronts and a blockade of Republican opposition to any arms control measures.
But gun control supporters said they were appalled by his tone shift a year ago when Mr Biden said on the campaign, “Every day we do nothing, this is an insult to the myriad lives this nation have been forever subjected to by gun violence shocked. “
During the campaign, Mr Biden also promised on his first day in office that he would send a bill to Congress that would remove liability protection for gun manufacturers and fill gaps in background checks. He has not yet done so, 65 days into his term in office.
“I was very frustrated that he turned to Infrastructure Week,” said Igor Volsky, the founder of Gun Down America. The government’s failure to approach gun legislation with the same intensity as it implemented its $ 1.9 trillion pandemic rescue plan – which was passed without Republican support – only added to his frustration, he said .
“We saw what you can do when you step on the accelerator,” said Volsky. “You conveyed it despite unanimous opposition. That is the kind of guidance we need to see on this issue. “
The House passed two gun control bills this month but, given the Republican opposition and the Chamber’s 60-vote threshold, they languish for most Senate bills to pass.
“This crisis is beyond any other crisis we’ve seen,” said Greg Jackson, the national advocacy director of the Community Justice Action Fund, a group focused on gun violence in color communities.
After the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Conn., Where 20 children and six adults were murdered, President Barack Obama pledged to urge Congress to ban offensive weapons and high-capacity military-style magazines, expand background checks, and tighten arms trade laws. He has cited his failure to pass laws as one of his greatest regrets.
In 2019, President Donald J. Trump said briefly that after two deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, he would press for what he described as “very significant background checks”. However, after speaking with National Rifle Association officials, he turned around and said he was concerned about the protection of the second amendment and that the country “currently has very strong background controls”.
In particular, the public chorus of disapproval on Friday was absent from Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the most influential gun violence prevention organizations in the country. While the group’s president John Feinblatt has encouraged Mr Biden to act immediately, so far he has not openly criticized him for delaying.
An Everytown spokeswoman Stacey Radnor said the group continues to work closely with the White House to carry out executive action and press Congress to act.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference Friday that Mr Biden understands the frustration among gun control advocates. She added, however, that “the Members of the House and Senate who voted against the presidential-sponsored measures should be frustrated and we would certainly support their advocacy in this regard.”
Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, said government “inconsistent” messaging was a problem.
“We’re trying to find out what’s going on here,” she said. “We pushed for it, we supported him, we expected a better reaction after the elections.”
The government has worked on three arms gun enforcement actions but has not yet implemented them.
Ghost guns – kits that are used to assemble a weapon from parts – would be classified as firearms that would require background checks to be sold. Another would fund community violence intervention programs, and the third would strengthen the background control system, according to congressional assistants familiar with the talks.
Ms. Psaki refused to provide a timetable for executive action.
Some gun control supporters also said they wanted a senior White House official to oversee the issue. Susan E. Rice, the director of Mr. Biden’s Home Affairs Council, was the in-house point of contact for combating gun violence. But Mr Obama blamed his Vice President, Mr Biden, of the issue after the Sandy Hook shootings.
Ms. Murray said she had the perfect figure in mind to serve as Mr. Biden’s main character on the matter.
“We’ll take Barack Obama,” she said.