Instead, the White House is likely to stick to campaign pledges to support legislation aimed at closing the Charleston Rift, as well as measures designed to keep guns away from those considered a danger to themselves. or for others and to establish safe storage standards for firearms, according to one of those familiar with the plans.
“My take is the broadest and most daring of gun violence prevention because we have a unique window of opportunity,” said Blumenthal.
The desire to go bigger and bolder comes up against a variety of different political realities, however, including a divided Senate in the middle and advocates who disagree on which policies to push and how fast to push them. . All of this underscores a promise Biden made to act quickly on guns after taking office – a promise that seems less likely as the Covid-19 pandemic overshadows everything else.
The White House has held several meetings on gun violence with prominent groups pushing for gun restriction, community groups asking for billions of dollars in program funding, and gun violence survivors.
The meetings are chaired by Susan Rice, Director of the Home Policy Council, and Cedric Richmond, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. During recent meetings, Richmond shared with lawyers that he had lost a childhood friend to gun violence, according to three people who were in conversation with the former congressman.
A White House official said Biden was considering “every tool at our disposal, including management actions” and was considering investing in community violence programs, requiring background checks, banning guns. assault and high-capacity magazines and repealing the liability immunity of firearms manufacturers. . But Biden still does not have a Senate-confirmed attorney general and director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who will play a key role in any executive branch action on handguns. fire.
“During the campaign, the president presented an ambitious plan to keep our communities safe, and he remains committed to this agenda,” White House spokesman Mike Gwin said.
The talks come as gun sales have skyrocketed amid a year of pandemic quarantines, a summer of racial unrest and Biden’s presidential victory, after pledging an aggressive campaign for reduce gun violence. The year 2020 saw a record number of gun homicides in the United States.
The Biden White House’s awareness of gun safety groups has been hailed by most established organizations. “This administration is what, three weeks [but] it is the strongest administration in gun safety history, whether you’re talking about the president, vice president or cabinet, ”said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We are convinced that they will govern like this.”
Supporters affiliated with these groups say the chance to act in Congress and elsewhere in the federal government has never been better, in part because public support for the changes has steadily increased after Newtown, Connecticut, and the shootings that have taken place. followed and in part because of the implosion of the powerful National Rifle Association.
“We have changed state legislatures. We have adopted electoral referendums. We saw for the first time in my time in this movement a … Democratic primary where every candidate tried to outdo themselves on the importance of this issue, ”said Christian Hayne, Brady’s vice president of policy, a group that supports increased restrictions on guns. “We anticipate that the momentum will continue to build until we get the change we desperately need.
Biden has a long history of dealing with gun law, though his most recent efforts have ended in notable failure. After Newtown, Connecticut, Obama asked him to push through what he hoped would be the biggest gun restrictions in decades. But after months of meetings and limited executive action, a bill requiring extensive background checks died in the Senate.
The Senate is even less Democratic now, split 50-50, meaning any bill would require at least 10 Republicans to vote with all Democrats. And, as such, grassroots groups led by young people of color who have survived mass shootings or live in communities battling daily gun violence want Biden to immediately use his executive power to fill loopholes for gun dealers.
Some of them are urging the administration to start disbursing money in 40 cities across the country plagued by gun violence through discretionary agency grants or by declaring a national emergency. Rather than wait for Congress to pass funding for an infrastructure or gun control bill, groups like March For Our Lives and Community Justice Action Fund say agencies can and should begin to allocate funds to community programs now. They fear that the administration’s current approach may take weeks or even months to achieve progress, and note that such long delays are at odds with Biden’s vow to act on the first day of his term in office.
“We have incidents where three or four people are shot [daily] and we don’t get the same kind of outcry and attention for these kinds of homicides and mainly because it’s black and black, ”said Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of the READI Chicago section of the progressive Heartland Alliance, who spoke to the White House.
Earlier this month, Heartland was part of the coalition of organizations representing communities of color that sent a letter to the Biden administration expressing disappointment at not being included in a White House rally with more establishment gun control groups. According to four people involved in recent meetings, the White House moved quickly to rectify the situation and has since held at least two virtual calls with advocates from groups across the country.
Bocanegra said he was satisfied with the audience he received at the White House. But he still expressed frustration that white-led gun control groups seemed to be getting more attention after spending days helping Biden transition into politics.
“I want to see my return on this investment,” he said.
The Covid pandemic complicates any effort to evolve gun safety measures – whether through legislation or executive action. Currently, nearly 2,000 Americans die from the virus on average each day. And although cases and deaths in the country have declined from their January high, the top priority for the White House remains to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control and to distribute economic relief, including a Covid-bill. 19 of nearly $ 2 trillion going through Congress.
As the White House focuses its efforts on the pandemic, lawmakers working on gun control have been left waiting for signals. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Has said he plans to reintroduce his universal background check bill in the coming month, though he wants to see a plan from the Biden administration first. .
“I don’t think anyone is going to move forward on strategy without hearing from the White House,” said Murphy, who plans to speak to Rice this week.
Murphy himself has said he supports Biden in using his executive authority to fight gun control. But if Democrats are to pass legislation, “our best chance of passing a background check proposal is this year. I don’t want to have to wait for a mass shooting.”