Were the Democrats, as a corporate political party, ever really serious about gun control? For many years people asked if the Republicans, as a corporate political party, were serious about banning abortion? Turns out the Republicans are serious. The Democrats... not so much. Yesterday-- the four-year anniversary of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida-- Biden has tried his best to make gun control constituencies that he and his party are on their side-- without doing anything that would anger the vocal minority who want no restrictions on guns. Since Biden moved into the White House, there have been 718 mass shootings and 47,734 gun deaths.
Yesterday, Biden pushed the blame for nothing happening over to Congress. He's not wrong that Congress deserves as much opprobrium as he does. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. It takes a lot to get something worthwhile done. Careerists in the Democratic Party establishment are unwilling to fight too hard for anything that could jeopardize their own careers. Biden has always been an expert in that. Earlier this morning, when we looked at "freedom," I didn't mention the tension between a freedom to own guns and a freedom to not be the victim of a mass shooting-- nor, for example, did I mention the tension between the freedom to own slaves and freedom itself. Remember how much work it was for progressives to emancipate the slaves? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to win independence from Britain? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to pass the bill of rights? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to expand suffrage from wealthy older white males to the rest of us? Conservatives fought that-- and continue to. Remember how much work it was for progressives to abolish child labor? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to lay the groundwork for breaking up monopolies? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to pass civil rights laws? Conservatives fought that. Remember how much work it was for progressives to institute a minimum wage, to establish an 8 hour workday, to pass Social Security and Medicare? Conservatives fought all of that that-- and still do.
None of that would have ever happened had Biden or anyone like him been president at any of the crucial junctions in these struggles. And none of them would have happened if the progressive party at the time was as craven as the Democratic Party is today-- not to mention if the conservative opposition then was as fascistic as the GOP has become in the last half dozen years. Nor, probably, if the American public had been so malleable, fat and comfortable as it is today.
Yesterday, Biden mumbled some bullshit about passing gun control legislation. Congress shrugged. Don't you know there's a midterm coming up? Don't you know there is always a midterm or full term coming up? Writing for The Hill this morning, Alexander Bolton reported that the feckless Democrats are "exasperating activists frustrated over the lack of action at a time when Democrats control the White House and both branches of Congress after ten years of Republican or split control of Congress... [T]here’s been little to no talk in the Senate Democratic caucus about picking up two gun-control bills that passed the House in March."
With no leadership from the Democrats, polling for gun control is at a low-- if that.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is a non-fighter on the issue and not even the simplest reforms-- like background checks-- get voted on. Igor Volsky, the co-founder of Guns Down America, said "We've been promised by Senate Majority Leader Schumer as far back as March, April that there would be a vote during the summer, then it got pushed back even further. They're using this familiar playbook of making all kinds of promises during the campaign and then fail to deliver anything when they’re in power."
The Democratic Party is so lucky there's a Republican Party to make them a lesser evil. Jon Tester (D-MT), reported Bolton, "said the subject of gun-control legislation hardly ever came up for discussion within the Senate Democratic caucus during Biden’s first year in office." Manchin said "he’s not aware of any discussion on gun-control legislation in recent weeks. 'No, there hasn’t been any changes whatsoever,” he said, pointing to the lack of Republican support as the major reason why background checks legislation hasn’t come to the floor. He said the staunch Republican opposition 'makes it very difficult' to get something through the Senate."
The House passed two gun-control bills largely along party lines in March of 2021.
One proposal, which passed 227 to 203, would expand background checks and the second, which passed 219 to 210, would give the FBI 10 days to vet gun buyers.
Those measures have now sat in Senate limbo for nearly a year.
Biden on Monday tried to resuscitate his gun control agenda by calling on Congress to act.
[Biden] noted that he’s asked Congress to provide an additional $500 million in funding to reduce violent crime and increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals.
“Congress must do much more-- beginning with requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers,” he said.
He made his comments as part of a broader statement commemorating the deaths of 14 students and three staff members in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.
...After winning the Senate majority in January of last year, Democratic senators said there was little chance of passing a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines but they thought they could negotiate a compromise to expand background checks.
...Now the question Schumer faces is whether to force vote on background checks legislation that is likely to fail because there aren’t 10 Republicans in the 50-50 Senate willing to vote for it.
While such a vote would put Republicans on the record as opposing a reform that more than 80 percent of voters support, it could turn into a future political liability for vulnerable Democrats running in swing states such as Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Sometimes political courage is as important in looking at candidates as is where they "stand" on issues. A few years ago Senate candidate and very successful mayor or Columbus, Georgia, Teresa Tomlinson, wrote in a guest post that "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave. They care less about what you think on the issues than whether you have the moxie to fight for them and the strength of conviction to tell them what you really think... That’s what the Right can’t stand about The Squad. Those women are fearless about their beliefs. They refuse to be bullied, and that is dangerous to the Republican playbook of shaming scared Democrats into milk toast, mealy-mouthed, baby-splitting positions that are equivocal and stand for nothing. American voters revile those who won’t tell the people what they think. Even if you don’t support the policies-- or certainly some of the statements-- of The Squad, you can’t deny that you appreciate that they unabashedly tell the world what they think."