What Power Does Biden Have To Change Gun Laws In The US?
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Following the news that an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two adults in a school shooting in Texas, President Joe Biden gave an emotional speech in which he called for stricter gun laws in the US.
The latest massacre marks the 27th school shooting in 2022 alone, raising new questions about the widely debated topic of gun control in America.
Speaking in an address at the White House yesterday evening (24 May), Biden said the Texas shooting at Robb Elementary School demonstrated that now is the time to ‘turn this pain into action’.
"Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” he asked.
"Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?"
“It’s time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act.
“It’s time – for those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more. We have to do more.”
Biden highlighted gun manufacturers ‘aggressively marketing assault weapons’ for the past two decades, adding: “We have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”
But while the POTUS has continued to fight for gun control in America, the situation continues to deteriorate.
In the wake of the most recent tragedy that took place in Texas yesterday, research by The Washington Post has revealed a jaw-dropping 300,000 school children have been witness to gun violence in US schools since the infamous Columbine massacre of 1999.
With the federal government not tracking school shootings, the outlet built its study on numbers drawn from news articles, open-source databases, law enforcement reports and calls to schools and police departments.
In the broader definition of mass shootings, Forbes highlighted a statistic last year showing that America experienced more than one shooting a day.
Although Biden hopes to turnaround these figures, there are a number of issues holding him back from implementing real change.
As outlined by National World, all Presidents are powerless to enact gun control reforms without the backing of Congress – it’s not as simple as just signing a piece of paper.
An example arrived nearly a decade ago when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
In light of this horrific tragedy, a majority of the US House voted to advance a bipartisan bill that would simply require background checks on all commercial sales of guns.
However, those who don’t want to see gun reforms go ahead used the procedural filibuster – which requires 60 senators to agree to just vote on a bill – to delay proceedings and block them from moving forward. And since 54 senators voted to advance the bill, they were six members short.
End the filibuster. Pass gun safety reform.— Congresswoman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) May 25, 2022
Another issue is the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), which remains to be one of the most powerful special interest lobby groups in America.
As reported by the BBC, the organisation officially spends about $3 million (£2.4m) per year to influence gun policy, although this is just the recorded contribution to lawmakers and does not include independent funds.
The NRA is able to use its deep pockets to influence lawmakers in the US, making those filibusters even harder to overcome.
Last and definitely not least is the complexity of gun laws in the US; each state has its own set of rules which a gun owner must follow, making it near impossible for the government to come to an agreement for the entire country.
The same goes for public attitude, with Democrats and Republicans nearly split down the middle in their opinions on reform.
So as much as Biden wants to see the US take action now, the reality is far more convoluted and casts a grim shadow on what’s tragically become a regular fixture of American life.
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