This gun control essay and analysis outlines what conservatives and progressives think about President Biden’s gun control measures. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: Gun Control Essay and Analysis
Emma Newburger of CNBC reports: “President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to strengthen gun laws on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida…The president called for several provisions including background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating legal immunity for gun manufacturers.” This gun control essay and analysis outlines what conservatives and progressives think about President Biden’s calls for gun control measures.
Gun Control Essay: What Conservatives Are Saying
The consensus on the right is that mass shootings are catastrophic, unpredictable events. Conservatives believe new gun control measures won’t aid mitigation and instead enable the trampling of basic constitutional rights for gun owners.
Jacob Sullum writes in Reason that “Biden’s ‘commonsense’ gun control prescriptions are ‘common’ in the sense that politicians often push them,” but “whether they make ‘sense’ is another matter.” Sullum criticizes Biden’s assault weapon ban proposal as both an ineffective and futile idea. In his view, the very definition of an “assault weapon” is unclear and thereby easy for the gun industry to bypass. Furthermore, “Even if the government could eliminate all guns with those features, would-be mass shooters would have plenty of equally lethal alternatives. Several of the deadliest school shootings in US history were carried out with weapons that would not be covered by Biden’s ban.” Sullum also cites Biden’s attempt to repeal the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as a play for a de facto ban on gun manufacturing in America. The law generally shields gun manufacturers and distributors from criminal liability when their products are used in crimes. Sullum quotes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who said in 2016 that holding companies accountable for crimes committed with their products means you favor “ending gun manufacturing in America,” essentially implying that “your position is there should not be any guns in America, period.”
In Fairfield Sun Times, John R. Lott Jr. makes the case that other industries like automobile and computer manufacturing would face destruction if a similar liability standard were applied to those sectors. He points out that “Some 4.5 million Americans are injured each year in car accidents, and 40,000 die. When accidents occurred because a driver wasn’t paying attention or was driving recklessly, it makes no sense to sue Ford for lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering.” He also mentions his own research, which finds that “Increased gun ownership is associated with less crime, not more. Poor people in the highest crime areas benefit the most from owning guns, and gun maker liability would be sure to make guns unaffordable for these individuals.”
Whether Biden’s efforts will be successful is a separate matter. Writing for Fox News, Morgan Phillips contends that “Second Amendment advocates say Biden doesn’t have the authority to ban assault weapons or magazine capacity by executive order. [However, he could potentially] use regulatory authority to restrict guns without Congress’ input.”
Preparing for a political battle, the right is convinced that Biden’s proposed gun control measures are both ineffective and unconstitutional.
Gun Control Essay: What Conservatives Are Saying
The left is broadly in agreement on the merits of Biden’s gun control policies but they are not yet convinced he is prepared to act as aggressively as they’d like.
A trio of writers at POLITICO points out that Biden already failed to keep his promise that on his first day in office he would “send a bill to Congress repealing the liability protection for gun manufacturers, closing the background check loopholes and waiting period.” Then, after a speech on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, “[White House Press Secretary] Jen Psaki said…there is no legislation. “We’re as confused as you are,” the writers noted, hinting at the opaque and flimsy nature of Biden’s gun policy plan.
Daniel Politi, writing for Slate, is more optimistic. He cites a Wall Street Journal article conveying that “Gun control advocates in particular have been heartened because the White House has started to reach out to them.” He also cites several actions the Biden Administration can take now that don’t require a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority. Those measures include “appointing a senior aide who will specifically have the job of overseeing gun policy as well as pushing for existing rules to be more strictly enforced.” However, they caution the administration to more strongly consider race-related interests, as “There is some concern that there has been comparatively little outreach to Black-led gun violence prevention groups,” according to Mother Jones.
In the Las Vegas Sun, the Editorial Board elaborates on immediate actions Biden can take without requiring Congressional approval. According to the leading gun control advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, Biden can use executive orders to improve background checks, aggressively monitor far-right groups, revive federal gun violence research, and develop suicide awareness campaigns. The Editorial Board believes that if Biden begins with executive action, “Congressional lawmakers will follow his lead and finally make a breakthrough on gun safety after years of Republicans cowing to the National Rifle Association.” They believe that “the public is certainly ready. Surveys consistently show that support of more stringent gun policies has grown among Americans in recent years as mass shootings and other gun violence have increased.”
While the left is united in wanting aggressive gun control legislation, they are wary of a lack of follow-through from the Biden Administration.
America is split on this issue, according to Gallup polling. While 57% of Americans prefer stricter firearm laws, this represents a 7% decline from polling the previous year. Meanwhile, 34% of Americans prefer that gun laws remain unchanged and 9% seek fewer restrictions.