GOP attacks Biden's call for gun reform that majority of Americans support
Ninety percent of voters support background checks, according to one poll.
President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to enact several popular gun reform measures, three years to the day after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead.
“Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” Biden said of the 2018 tragedy.
The president proceeded to outline several “commonsense” actions, “including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
Already, Biden’s gun reform efforts have detractors.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) retweeted a National Rifle Association post on Sunday that read simply, “NRA will NEVER stop fighting for the 2nd Amendment.” Above the tweet, he wrote, “Biden told us: ‘Bingo!'”
The comment appeared to be a reference to Biden’s remarks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in August 2019, when he stated he would implement a national gun buyback program as part of an effort to get them off the street, if he became president. Responding to Cooper, who had noted firearm owners believed the then-candidate would “come for [their] guns,” Biden said, “Bingo, you’re right, if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period.”
Donald Trump later used those comments in a reelection campaign ad, but deceptively edited out everything after the words “you’re right.”
Cruz has notably received a total of $176,274 in campaign contributions from the NRA, according to data compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
On Monday, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), wrote, “I will always stand with Tennesseans in support of our #2A rights,” alongside the same NRA tweet. During the 2020 election cycle, Hagerty received a total of $4,950 in campaign contributions from the NRA, according to OpenSecrets.
And on Tuesday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) tweeted, “I won’t let @JoeBiden threaten the right of people in Wyoming to keep & bear arms,” saying Biden was “attacking” Second Amendment rights. Barrasso has received a total of $26,989 in NRA contributions, according to the Brady Campaign.
Several other pro-gun representatives have since voiced their opposition against Biden’s efforts. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in a tweet accused Biden of “coming for your guns,” while tweets from Reps. Warren Davison (R-OH) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) echoed similar sentiments. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) also claimed that Biden was “targeting 2A rights,” while Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) tweeted that Biden’s plan is a “direct assault on our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” responding to Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)’s tweet with a similar comment.
Montana Sen. Steve Daines (R) also tweeted his displeasure on Tuesday, writing above an article about Biden’s gun reform proposals, “I will always fight to protect our Second Amendment. I will not let @JoeBiden infringe upon Montanans’ Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has come out strong against Biden’s push, stating on Feb. 9, “It will be up to these millions of law-abiding gun owners, and millions of NRA members, to make their voices heard in opposition to any infringement upon their constitutional rights.”
Despite the Republican critics, a majority of Americans support many of the same gun reforms Biden has proposed.
For instance, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey in 2019 revealed that 90% of registered voters support background checks, even among households that own guns.
Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos stated at the time, “This is one of the rare instances of a poll result that shows unanimity in the United States.”
A Gallup poll that same year found that 61% of Americans also supported a ban on the “manufacture, possession and sale of semi-automatic guns, known as assault rifles.”
A more recent Gallup poll from November 2020 found that 57% of Americans want stricter gun laws overall when it comes to the sale of firearms. The figure has dipped since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread civil unrest, the poll noted.
Republicans, many of them tied to the NRA, have long tried to undermine commonsense gun reform efforts, particularly the vastly popular background checks.
Cruz, who previously said Congress “need[ed] to do more” about guns and “strengthen background checks” in the wake of a mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, in 2019, for instance, has thus far refused to support any sort of expanded background check legislation, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-CT) Background Check Completion Act of 2020, which had zero Republican co-sponsors and was never brought to a vote.
Neither Cruz nor his fellow Republican lawmakers supported Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) Background Check Expansion Act in 2020 either.
Barrasso, in August 2019, hinted that Republicans were unlikely to support enhanced background screening, despite the string of tragic shootings at the time. “I don’t expect things have changed much,” he said, according to Politico.
His comments were a throwback to 2013, when the Senate rejected a compromise proposal put forward by then-President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, which left 20 children and six adult staffers dead. The proposal, which would have expanded background checks on firearm sales and banned certain kinds of assault-style rifles, was defeated by Republicans, with the support of the NRA.
“Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said at the time, noting that such measures had broad support in the American public.
“Who are we here to represent?” he added.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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