Biden has a lengthy history of dealing with gun legislation, though his most recent effort ended in notable failure. After Newtown, Conn., Obama asked him to push through what he had hoped would be the biggest firearms restrictions in decades. But after months of meetings and limited executive actions, a bill to require expanded background checks died on the Senate floor.
The Senate is even less Democratic now, split 50-50, meaning that any bill would require at least 10 Republicans to vote with all Democrats. And, as such, grassroots groups led by young people of color who’ve survived mass shootings or live in communities battling daily gun violence want Biden to use his executive power immediately to close loopholes for gun sellers.
Some of them are urging the administration to begin disbursing money to 40 cities across the country plagued by gun violence through discretionary agency grants or by declaring a national emergency. Rather than wait for Congress to pass funding in an infrastructure or gun control bill, groups like March For Our Lives and Community Justice Action Fund say agencies can and should start allocating funds to community-based programs now. They fear that the administration’s current approach could take weeks, even months to result in progress, and note that such lengthy timelines are at odds with Biden’s vow to act on his first day in office.
“We have incidents where there’s three or four people getting shot [daily] and we don’t get the same kind of uproar and attention for those kinds of homicides and mainly because they’re Black and brown people,” said Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of the progressive Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago chapter, who has spoken to the White House.
Earlier this month, Heartland was among the coalition of organizations representing communities of color which sent a letter to the Biden administration expressing disappointment that they were not included in a gathering the White House held with more establishment gun control groups. According to four people who were involved in recent meetings, the White House moved quickly to rectify the situation and has since held at least two virtual calls with advocates from groups across the country.
— Anita Kumar and Laura Barrón-López in Biden considers regulating ‘ghost guns,’ other executive actions to curb gun violence