Gun violence prevention advocates were hopeful a year ago that the Biden presidency would make progress on gun control. Instead, as his first year in office draws to an end, they are feeling disappointed.
Advocates say Biden’s response to the recent school shooting in Michigan, when a sophomore opened fire at school and killed four students, fell short, and they are disheartened that the administration’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) withdrew.
Like his predecessors, Biden has issued executive orders on gun violence prevention while legislation to expand background checks has failed in the Senate.
"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," said Zeenat Yahya, deputy policy director at March for Our Lives.
"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 added.
Advocates wanted Biden to apply more pressure on Congress to move on gun violence, where a 50-50 Senate evenly divided between the parties is a major impediment. Activists acknowledge the political roadblocks, but express disappointment nonetheless.
"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?" said Peter Ambler, executive director and co-founder at Giffords, the gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was gravely wounded in a shooting.
"Do I think they’ve done the most of any administration? It’s not enough," said Fred Guttenberg, senior adviser of Brady PAC and father of a victim in the 2018 Parkland, Fla., school shooting.