According to Firearm Chronicles
It’s been nearly two weeks since Joe Biden was sworn in as president, but so far none of the executive actions he promised to take on gun control have come to pass. As a result, anti-gun activists are getting a little fidgety, and are starting to press their demands.
On MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show”, former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who’s now Biden’s director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, was asked by host Jonathan Capeheart to listen to a question from March For Our Lives’ David Hogg wondering when the administration was going to start to act.
Rice responded by calling “gun violence prevention efforts” (i.e. gun control) a priority for the Biden administration.
“We are not going to drop the ball on gun violence, and I admire the work that David and so many others in the March Four Our Lives have done to bring attention to this issue. We will be their partners in addressing this challenge.”
On the one hand, that’s pretty boilerplate language from Susan Rice. She didn’t offer up a single specific policy change, nor did she reveal when the Biden administration will try to enact the many executive orders Biden outlined during his campaign.
On the other hand, however, Rice said that the adminstration would be “partners” with anti-gun groups like March For Our Lives, which didn’t even prompt a response or a followup question from Capeheart.
Imagine if, within just a couple of days of the Donald Trump being sworn in, a senior administration official told MSNBC that the NRA would be “partners” with the new administration. Do you think Capeheart might have tried to drill down and get some specifics about what that actually meant? I do. Yet, here’s Susan Rice telling the MSNBC host that the Biden administration is going to be working closely with the gun control movement and Capeheart doesn’t even lob a softball to ask what that partnership is going to look like.
One of the things that Hogg and other gun control activists are demanding is the appointment of a National Director for Gun Violence Prevention, which they envision as a cabinet-adjacent position that can coordinate federal gun control efforts.
“March for Our Lives did not exist the last time that we had an administration in power that was even willing to sit down at the table with us,” says Eve Levenson, March for Our Lives’ policy and government affairs manager. But, as 40,000 people each year consistently die from gun-related deaths—and as gun sales and certain types of gun violence have escalated during the coronavirus pandemic, the group argues it’s time for a bolder solution. It would also serve as a way to hold accountable an administration whose campaign repeatedly made firm promises about gun reform action.
Other national advocacy groups have echoed the call. Brady: United Against Gun Violence is recommending the same position. “This degree of coordination and resource management cannot be accomplished without the guidance of a designated director,” it says in its action report. Similarly, Everytown for Gun Safety has called for a national gun czar, and Giffords for an interagency task force.
While the day-to-day activities of the director would have to be determined once the position is created, Levenson says the organization hopes that the director would spend time breaking down silos between agencies so that communication and coordination of goals are clearer, and that data is disseminated across agencies more smoothly.
It hasn’t happened yet, but my guess is that the Biden administration will turn its attention to gun control in earnest in the very near future; likely after a COVID-19 relief bill has been worked out. In the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the first few anti-gun executive actions this week as the administration seeks to reassure anti-gun activists that they’re still a valued part of Biden’s coalition.