GUN CONTROL

Will Biden renew focus on gun control bills?

After a spate of mass shootings in 2021 the President is eager to introduce tougher restrictions on gun ownership, but faces push-back from Republicans in the Senate.

0
Will Biden renew focus on gun control bills?
NICHOLAS KAMM AFP

After yet another fatal mass shooting in the United States there are renewed calls for meaningful gun control legislation which has so far faced resolute opposition in the Senate.

On Wednesday an attack at a rail yard in North California left nine people dead after an employee opened fire on co-workers. The mass shooting was the 232nd of its kind since the start of 2021 and marked the latest in a spate of such incidents.

In a statement released in the aftermath of the attack President Joe Biden said: "I have the solemn duty of yet again of ordering the flag to be lowered at half-staff, just weeks after doing so following the mass shootings at spas in and around Atlanta; in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado; at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina; and at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.”

Will Biden attempt to introduce gun control legislation?

The President has been a long-time support of gun control measures and was a lead sponsor of the 1994 legislation which introduced a 10-year ban on what Biden described as “military-style assault weapons.”

However that legislation was allowed to lapse in 2004 and numerous attempts to enact more stringent gun control laws have been met with fierce resistance from activists and lawmakers. While campaigning for the 2020 presidential election Biden made clear that he wanted to introduce new measures but has so far focused his efforts on the pandemic response.

After this week’s shooting in California, Biden said: "Once again, I urge Congress to take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America. Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more."

Will Congress pass new gun control laws?

Biden is clearly eager for movement on the issue of gun control but has so far been frustrated by Republicans’ reluctance to support the measures. Two bills that would strengthen backgrounds checks and close the ‘Charleston loophole’ have passed the House of Representatives, but have been stalled in the Senate.

Speaking last month Biden told lawmakers: “I don’t want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join with the overwhelming majority of their Democratic colleagues, and close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun.”

But despite the marked rise in instances of gun crime in 2021, a number of states are actually passing legislation that would appear to ease restrictions on lethal weapons. On Monday the Republican-led Texas Legislature approved a bill that will allow residents to carry handguns without a license, and skip the accompanying background check and training.

Even before this proposal was approved the Lone Star State had some of the loosest gun laws in the country and the move has been criticised by law enforcement groups, who warn it will endanger both the public and the police.

Biden’s statements in the wake of the California shooting reiterates his commitment to passing meaningful gun control legislation, but he will be under no illusions about the size of the task at hand.