Joe Biden did not do enough in 2021 to appease the gun prohibition lobby.
Speaking to The Hill, various gun-control advocates expressed dismay over the administration’s failure to infringe on the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens.
“I think the biggest thing to highlight here is that the president has been a friend to the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement this year and we’re thankful, but frankly, he hasn’t really been a leader,” Zeenat Yahya, deputy policy director at March for Our Lives, told the newspaper.
“We’re definitely surprised. We were really hopeful and he made a lot of promises. We are thankful for some of the actions the president has already taken but there is so much more he can do that’s a comprehensive top-to-bottom approach,” Yahya continued.
Legislative priorities include criminalizing private transfers, banning the possession of black rifles and standard capacity magazines as well as federal confiscation orders (a national “red flag” law).
Republicans in the evenly-divided Senate snuffed out attempts to bring such measures up for a vote.
“It is very difficult for any administration to sort of do enough in that context and I think indeed, we would like to see more from the Biden administration. What we need more than anything right now is a comprehensive strategy to deal with this reality, what is the plan?” asked Peter Ambler, executive director and co-founder of Giffords.
The White House did make moves in June of 2021, pressuring the ATF to redefine the term “firearm” to cover certain firearm parts and kits and to reclassify pistol braces as firearm stocks. The agency has yet to issue its final ruling on either front.
In defending the Biden Administration from the criticism, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, pointed to that as cause for hope and a sign of what’s to come.
“From their work on stopping illegal gun trafficking with DOJ strike forces, to their strong proposed rule reining in ghost guns that we expect to be finalized any day now, to being strong advocates for a historic investment in community violence intervention programs in the American Rescue Plan, this administration has been a strong ally to the gun safety movement,” he said.
“This year was just the start and we expect more from the executive branch in 2022,” Feinblatt added.
While Feinblatt can point to a few, arguably shallow victories over the past year, there’s no getting around Biden’s biggest defeat: David Chipman.
Biden nominated Chipman to head the ATF in April but had to pull it in September. Chipman, a former ATF agent who is currently the senior policy advisor for Giffords, was a controversial candidate from the beginning.
Apart from fierce resistance from pro-gun GOP lawmakers, Chipman insulted gun owners, refused to define the term “assault weapons” during a Senate committee hearing, allegedly said racist remarks about coworkers, and may have even lost his duty gun while working for the agency.
Still, despite his many issues, anti-gunners viewed Chipman as an ally who could marshal the resources of the ATF to put the screws to gun owners.
“David Chipman failing to get confirmed was probably the biggest blow that we’ve seen this year to federal efforts to address the gun violence prevention epidemic. We need a confirmed ATF director,” said Ambler of Giffords.
While 2021 was largely a failure for the gun prohibition lobby, there’s no doubt that they’re hoping to turn things around in 2022. The 2A community can’t rest on its laurels.