Biden on Guns: practical, feasible or just naive?
Vice President Biden has spent much of his political career championing gun control regulations, boldly stating that he “has taken on the NRA on the national stage and won twice”.
Continuing down this path, his 2020 manifesto contains an extensive plan to bring the firearm deaths down, with 35,000 deaths occurring just this year. This includes bringing back the 1994 assault weapons ban, encouraging manufacturers to produce smart guns, and enforcing federal background checks on all purchases of guns and the code needed to 3D print a gun.
A key proposal is to close long-standing loopholes in background check policy, which currently allow one in five firearms to be sold without a background check. An example is the “hate crime” loophole which allows those convicted of a hate crime to purchase a firearm.
These proposals have proven popular, as a Gallup poll conducted in March 2018 found that 92% of Americans supported further background checks and 89% of these people believed they were either effective or very effective in preventing mass shootings.
However, while there is clear impetus for new legislation, a question remains on the feasibility of Biden’s proposals, such as “state incentivised red flags laws” which allow states to choose whether they wish to implement legislation. This legislation has proven controversial, as it can have a different application from state to state without overarching guidance.
Of course, gun reform has faced long-standing challenges in the Senate, House of Representatives and from the National Rifle Association’s lobby and filibuster. The task has proven difficult in the past - notably in 2013, when Barack Obama and Biden attempted to pass background checks that were defeated 54-46 in the Senate, despite a Gallup poll at the time finding that 65% of Americans wanted the bill to pass.
Impetus, logistics and willpower aside, passing gun reform remains a difficult task. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken centre stage and will be at the top of the legislative agenda for the next two years, providing only a small window for Biden to pass any reforms.
With both campaigns reaching their apex, many of these questions will go unanswered before Election Day.
Instead, it will be up to the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to take on the mantle and address these issues.
You can find this article's authors on Twitter: @alirazamanji99 and @LouisSykes100