by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, March 4 (Xinhua) — Apart from working hard to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, U.S. President Joe Biden is under pressure to take action on the country’s “epidemic of gun violence.”
Biden called on Congress to enact “commonsense gun law reforms” last month on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, southeastern state of Florida, which claimed 17 lives, including 14 students.
“Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets,” Biden said in a statement.
Stressing there was no time to wait, Biden said his administration “will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer.”
Democratic-led congressional lawmakers on Tuesday reintroduced legislation to expand federal background checks on all gun sales, two years after the legislation first entered the House in January 2019 amid a surging nationwide call for gun safety reform sparked by Parkland shooting.
The bill, called Bipartisan Background Checks Act, never received votes in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Gun control has become a partisan issue especially after a string of deadly mass shootings over the past decade. Those include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in the State of Connecticut, in which one gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
This time the Congress is still unlikely to pass the legislation advocating overarching gun control anytime soon, but Biden could make many smaller changes via executive order, said experts.
“It depends on if there are 10 (Senate) Republicans willing to vote for any sort of gun legislation that can also win the support of every (Senate) Democrat,” Christopher Galdieri, associate professor of politics at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua.
“Absent that, I think we’re most likely to see executive actions than major legislation,” Galdieri said.
Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the center for international and security studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua that new gun legislation all boils down to the Senate.
“This would probably be on background checks, which are supported by around 4 in 5 Americans,” Ramsay said, adding that no Republican supporter of former President Donald Trump will back such a measure.
“I would put the chances of success in this Congress (before 2023) at maybe 20 percent,” Ramsay said.
While Democrats are calling for more gun legislation, Republicans fear that more laws might not lessen the violence, but could infringe on rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
“Unless they get rid of the Filibuster, I find it next to impossible that they will make the changes that the Democratic base will like,” GOP Strategist and TV personality Ford O’Connell told Xinhua, speaking of a Senate procedure that would allow Republicans to block legislation.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called gun control a “priority to him (Biden) on a personal level,” in a briefing one day after Biden’s Parkland shooting memorial speech.
The president “is somebody, throughout his career, who has advocated for … smart gun safety measures,” Psaki said. “He is not afraid of standing up to the NRA (National Rifle Association).”
In turn, the NRA, America’s most powerful gun lobbying group, promised it would oppose Biden on the issue. “It will be up to these millions of law-abiding gun owners, and millions of NRA members, to make their voices heard in opposition to any infringement upon their constitutional rights,” the group said. Enditem
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