POV: Biden’s Gun Control Executive Orders Are a Step in the Right Direction
POV: Biden’s Gun Control Executive Orders Are a Step in the Right Direction
But it will take a range of reforms, initiated pragmatically over time, to achieve progress
The recent mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia are tragic reminders of something we have long known: America has a gun problem. Each day, over 100 people in the United States are killed by guns, and over 230 are wounded. We face an average of 38,826 gun deaths each year, about two-thirds of which are suicides. These ongoing daily tragedies have formed a kind of white noise in the background of our national life. To our shame, we have become so accustomed to it, we sometimes forget it is there—until another horrific mass shooting breaks through and reminds us. Gun rights have become a grotesque parody of their original intent. The “well regulated Militia” specified in the Second Amendment has become the active shooter in the shopping mall, spa, or school, the toddler accidentally discharging her parent’s gun, the depressed individual turning a pistol on himself.
This problem has been prolonged and deepened by long-standing intransigence at the federal level. The success of the gun lobby has been a triumph of special interests over the will of the American people, the majority of whom favor common-sense gun laws. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, 60 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws, an increase from 52 percent in 2017.
In recent years, calls for action on guns have grown louder. The 2018 Parkland, Fla., shooting, in particular, catalyzed a new approach to the issue of gun violence, led by young people, notably reflected in the March for Our Lives.
With the Biden administration in office, there is now cause to hope these calls have been heard and will be acted on. On April 8, the administration announced a suite of executive actions to curb gun violence. They include directing the US Department of Justice to propose a rule to restrict the proliferation of “ghost guns” (hard-to-trace guns built from kits that can lack serial numbers), directing the DOJ to model red-flag legislation allowing courts to temporarily prevent someone from accessing firearms, and directing the DOJ to issue a report on gun trafficking. President Biden also announced the nomination of David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman currently works as a senior policy advisor to the gun violence prevention group Giffords, named for former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2011 after a mass shooting that left six people dead.
These are all welcome steps, pointing in the right direction. But after so many years of inaction on gun violence, it is reasonable to ask: are they enough? The answer is that no single push—whether from the legislative, executive, or judicial branch of government—will be enough to fully address gun violence. Rather, it will take a range of reforms, initiated pragmatically over time, to achieve progress. Massachusetts is an instructive example. It has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country and has reduced gun deaths by 40 percent over a 25-year period. It did this through a comprehensive approach, including better safety standards for the gun industry, banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, passing universal safe storage laws for guns and a red-flag law. None of these steps in isolation brought us to where we are now; rather, it was their collective influence that did it, informed by the necessary political will. President Biden’s announcement last Thursday is most welcome, perhaps, as a reflection of this will, as a sign that power is shifting at the highest level towards a healthier status quo on guns.
Fundamentally, the issue of gun violence is shaped by the questions of what needs to be done and what realistically can be done at a given moment in our politics. For a long time, we could not bring these two questions into alignment, with need always outstripping the political means to address it. Biden’s announcement suggests that we may be seeing the start of a sea change, as need and means finally meet. It is up to all of us to continue to push for necessary change. The momentum of recent years did much to bring us here—in particular, the efforts of students, many of whom are part of our school community. We should work to sustain this. America has had a gun problem for so long that it can seem like a permanent fixture of our society. But one of the lessons of this past year is that, in an instant, everything can change, that we can take dramatic steps when we decide, collectively, that health demands it. It is long past time we did so on guns.
Funny how the Dems care nothing abt funding police while there is such a growth in homicides in the inner city. Black and Afro- Am are 39 per 100,000 white white homicides are 17 per 100,000. Death by gunshot of blacks exceeded those of whites 17,000 t0 15,000 in 2019. Do you really think that new laws by congress will reduce homicides in the inner city? The mass media totally ignores them but all they can talk abt is gun control when some white guy shoots up a supermarket in Pocudnk but the truth is more mass shootings are done by non-whites — but they ignore that fact.
Well-layered legislation on gun control is an absolute necessity to curbing gun violence in the United States, but any action at this point is a step in the right direction. As a student who has experienced the a lockdown in response to the threat of a school shooting at my high school, I have firsthand experience with the unresponsiveness of public officials to the concerns that, as this article states, most of the public hold about the current state of our gun legislation.
Moreover, the idea of stronger gun control legislation in the United States is a promising one for reducing gun violence. Other countries such as the UK, Australia, Japan, and Germany have all successfully curbed gun violence with gun control legislation, and these examples provide reasons to be optimistic for the potential for successful gun reform in the US. That being said, as the author states, legislation will be most effective if it is diverse and enacted through multiple modes, so we must think pragmatically about how to achieve this.
It is not a step in any direction. Most shootings in the US are done by handguns, including mass shootings. This is a stupid ploy to placate the masses that Biden can change shootings-which he cannot.
Massachusetts already has one of the most stringent gun legislation in the country. Explain to me how you stop the criminals from obtaining guns? The Chicago killings are Black on Black and you can bet none of them have a license to carry.
There is no such thing as black on black crime. It is just crime. Just like white on white crime is just crime. In an African country, it would just crime. Also many gun users are unlicensed. But I ask you if you needed a gun tomorrow because your life depended on it, would you honestly say wait I need to go through all these steps first to get the gun or would you look for the easiest and fastest way to obtain one? If you have had the privilege to be able to go through the legal steps and have access to the money then that is your experience. However, that is simply not the experience for everyone.
While it is nice to see more legislation being passed to help curb gun violence, I definitely agree that a single push is still not enough and will not be enough. One sentence that stood out to be in this article was how the news of gun violence and shootings have become a form of white noise to our national life until a really big, horrific shooting reminds us of how broken our gun control legislation is. This thought is really scary. People are killed by guns everyday and we just regard it so casually when in reality, it is probably the most horrific thing that humans can do to one another. And I think that this mindset silently adds to the problem about why we don’t have as strict gun legislation. So many other countries have more strict gun legislation that results in a safer nation and I hope that our administration continues to push for more regulation, but that is a task easier said than done.
When it comes to Biden’s policy on gun control, I agree with Amy and think that this alone will not be enough. It seems that whenever I look at the news, there is a new shooting every few days. It has been honestly very tiring to see it come up on the news so often and really does remind us how common of a problem this is. Because of the frequency of incidents, I find myself constantly with a fear of being shot when in public. A fear that is commonly shared among Americans, however a problem that can eventually be solved with enough momentum and pressure. I am still hopeful that our government will implement policies that will curb gun violence. The Biden policy has potential to be the seed of a greater change.
Hello Ray. I invite you to read the peer review article “Mental Illness, the
Media, and the Moral Politics of Mass Violence: The Role of Race in Mass
Shootings Coverage”. This article speaks directly to your concerns of what mass shootings are getting covered and the different sentiments viewers actually tend to feel about mass shooters depending on their race. However, to your point of black people acting out more mass shootings. This is simply incorrect. In fact between 1982 and 2021, 66 out of 123 have been committed by white shooters. However, yes black people are far more likely to fall victim of gun violence. Btu why is this? Proximity Crime! Black people are far more likely to commit crimes against other black people and white people against white people. Why? Because as humans we tend to migrate towards others like us. Black people are also far more likely to live in underserved neighborhoods and food deserts. Now when you put this into perspective, you see that gun violence in the black community is about lack of distribution of resources and protecting those resources. Whereas, many of the senseless mass shootings are just that, senseless. I am certain you see why these things are so different. But we have to start somewhere. Senseless mass shootings done by unstable people and having access to military grade machinery is an issue that must be addressed. Gun violence affects us all as Americans. Addressing mass shooting is just one step towards a solution and from there we can address other issues concerning gun violence. Everything must be done one step at a time. How? We assess why they are happening. Getting to the root of the problem before things get worse. In gun violence is an issue in the black community, what is it that is not working and what is needed to assure that one does not need a gun on their belt to protect already scarce resources? Mental illness is often the discussion when talking about mass shootings. Well, how can we support and advocate for mental health avenues to prevent mass shootings? There is a root to all issues, and once you find that root, you begin to see real changes. It is not a party issue. It is a people issue. We are all affected regardless of party, race, etc.