World Insights: Biden under pressure to take action on gun control after two mass shootings

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by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, March 25 (Xinhua) — After mass shootings in the past fortnight on the U.S. soil grabbed headlines worldwide, U.S. President Joe Biden may take action on gun control via executive orders, experts said.

“It is going to be hard to get gun measures through Congress,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua, referring to the most deeply divided Congress in decades.

“But Biden can issue executive orders that have the force of law. He could use this procedure to tighten background checks and make it possible to remove guns in cases of demonstrated mental distress or violence,” West said.

“Republicans will oppose his efforts but won’t be able to block his executive orders,” West said.

Two killers conducted mass shootings less than a week apart — the first in Atlanta, killing eight people, and the second in Boulder, Colorado, leaving 10 people dead. The shootings have prompted Biden to address the issue of gun control, as he faces hard questions over what actions he’ll take in response.

On Thursday, in his first press conference since taking office, Biden indicated he would not prioritize gun control, saying instead he would focus on infrastructure.

Democrat lawmakers are calling for more background checks, and the president has pushed the Senate to pass a bill that the Democrat-controlled House has already passed.

Biden wants to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would expand background checks and close loopholes that allow people to purchase firearms on the Internet and at gun shows.

He also wants to pass the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, which would close a loophole that allows firearms sales to go forward despite an incomplete background check if three business days have passed from the time the check began. The bill would extend to 10 days the period in which the background checks are to be completed.

“These are bills that received votes with both Republicans and Democrats in the House. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue that will save lives, American lives. And we have to act,” Biden recently said.

Biden earlier this week also expressed a desire to ban assault weapons. The White House has not made it clear yet whether Biden would take executive action, although experts said that’s what he’s likely to do.

“I would give odds of 5 to 1 that ultimately Biden will issue executive orders,” Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the center for international and security studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua.

“I think the Senate is locked tight against any gun control measure passing,” Ramsay said.

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham is going to propose a very diluted measure that some Republicans will oppose nonetheless, not to mention Democrats, who want to pass something more effective, Ramsay said.

Biden’s executive orders will be chosen less for effectiveness than for their capacity to stand up to legal challenges, Ramsay said.

“At the end of that road is the Supreme Court, and there is no reason to assume gun-control executive orders would be upheld there,” Ramsay said.

Some Republicans noted that gun control measures Biden is pursuing were already in place in the state of Colorado when the shooting occurred, and that they did not stop the gunman from taking lives.

Republican Congresswoman from Colorado Lauren Boebert tweeted on Wednesday that “Universal background checks & magazine bans were enacted in Colorado in 2013,” contending that they are “not the solution.”

“From 2013-2017 violent crime increased by 25 percent in (Colorado) while declining nationally,” she tweeted.

Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O’Connell told Xinhua that the laws Biden is proposing are a mere political play and do not make anyone safer.

“Every measure Biden is looking for, Colorado already had in place,” O’Connell said.

Gun control has for decades been a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans argue that the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to defend themselves when the police are far away. Democrats believe guns are one of the main reasons for so many firearms-related deaths in the United States. Enditem

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