As usual President Biden is caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to what steps to take to curb gun violence that seems to have no end in mounting casualties. Should he call for a wholesale ban on the assault weapons that have been used repeatedly in mass shootings such as the horrific ones in Buffalo or Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two adults were killed or accede to Democratic moderates who have proposed background checks or red flag laws that might appeal to Republicans?
Biden realizes that something must be done, even if it’s no more than voicing his outrage and attending the funerals that will come in rapid succession over the next few days. Whatever measures he proposes will have to get 10 Senate Republicans to come aboard in order to break the filibuster.
On Monday, Biden said, “I know it makes no sense to be able to purchase something that can fire up to 300 rounds.” That was in reference in particular to the AR-15 and AK-47 weapons. His statements were echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris, who said, “We are not sitting around waiting to figure out what the solution looks like.” She made this declaration last Saturday at the funeral services for Ruth Whitfield, 86, the oldest of the 10 victims. “We know what works on this. It includes—let’s have an assault weapons ban.”
Such action would be in keeping with those voiced by Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, now campaigning for governor. He told the press that semi-automatic firearms are “weapons of war.” These words were said before the tragedy at Robb Elementary school. “I think we are fools to believe anything other than that these weapons of war will continue to be used with greater frequency against our fellow Americans. It’s why I’ve taken the position that I don’t think we should have AR-15s and AK-47s in civilian life. They belong on a battlefield.”
That battlefield, metaphorically, is now taking place in the Senate, and Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat in Michigan, and chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he goes along with the strategy of focusing on proposals that can pick up bipartisan support and get passed into law.
Peters’ outlook is to a great degree shared by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, who is deeply concerned about losing control of the senate. “There’s a discussion in the caucus about whether to hold accountability votes and the people who are trying really hard to win tough races have supermajority,” he said.
If left to the majority of the American public, especially to a few polls, more than 65% of registered voters strongly or somewhat support an assault-style weapons ban as well as a solid number of voters favoring banning high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Unfortunately, this is not an issue left to polls or to American voters, unless they take it to the candidates on their ballots.