President Joe Biden stepped into the gun control debate once again this week, igniting a controversy likely to motivate Republicans to turn out in next year’s midterm elections and produce meaningful legislation in a narrowly Democratic Congress.
Biden’s remarks Wednesday were meant to show he was taking the spike in homicides in some major cities seriously. But the main viral moment out of the event is a reminder of how challenging the politics of the gun issue can be.
“Those who say the blood of lib — ‘the blood of patriots,’ you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government,” Biden said. “Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons.”
hat began as an argument over the proper limits of the Second Amendment right to bear arms became a series of tweets and Facebook posts about Biden going nuclear.
“The murder rate, which had been on a downward trend for over 20 years, has currently spiked. And yet now, Biden has the audacity to point to this rise in crime and blame it on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. That’s disgusting!” said Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, in a statement. “The Left has yet to learn the lesson that coddling criminals and demonizing the police results in more crime.”
Biden has had experience with this in his past. As the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was an architect of the 1994 crime bill signed into law by former President Bill Clinton that included a federal ban on assault weapons. The belief was that suburban voters concerned about violent crime would reward Democrats for cracking down on guns.
Instead, it became a cudgel to beat Democrats in rural and conservative districts during the midterm elections. Guns were among a cluster of issues that helped Republicans win their first House majority in 40 years as they gained 52 seats.
The assault weapons ban came with a 10-year sunset provision, which was allowed to lapse in 2004. Large Democratic congressional majorities did not reinstate it under President Barack Obama in 2009, and Republicans regained the House by the time there was a renewed push after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
Gun control legislation is often broadly popular, especially in the wake of mass shooting events. The specific proposals Biden has regularly floated, such as expanding background checks and banning certain styles of weapons, often poll well. But conservative gun owners are more likely to cast their votes based on the issue.
An ABC News-Ipsos poll earlier this year showed 57% of voters disapproved of Biden’s handling of gun violence. This included nearly eight in 10 Republicans, most of whom presumably disagree with the president on gun control, as well as one-third of Democrats, who lament the lack of action on the issue.
“Democrats were able to put Republicans on the defensive the last few years on guns,” said Republican strategist Matt Gorman. “Biden answering today’s crime epidemic with gun control is like only allowing spoons for a steak dinner.”
Republicans have more recently tried to put Democrats on the defensive over the recent crime wave, attributing a spike in homicides to the “defund the police” movement Democratic operatives acknowledge hurt the party at the polls last year.
“On ‘defund the police,’ Biden is a hypocrite,” said Tommy Pigott, the Republican National Committee’s rapid response director, in a statement. “As Americans witness a spike in violent crime, Democrats’ anti-police efforts are to blame.”
He highlighted Biden appointees like Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.
“Crime historically rises during the summer,” Biden said at the White House. “And as we emerge from this pandemic with the country opening back up again, the traditional summer’s summer spike may even be more pronounced than it usually would be.”
Biden touted his experience on the issue.
“For folks at home, here’s what you need to know: I’ve been at this a long time, and there are things we know that work that reduce gun violence and violent crime, and things that we don’t know about,” he said.
Author : W. James Antle
Source : Washington Examiner : Biden’s gun control push likely to produce 2022 headaches for Democrats