It’s the Gun Safety Reform For Me, Joe
By Sidney Essex
“It’s the _____ For Me, Joe” is a short weekly breakdown of Joe Biden’s policy plan for a specific issue, with the aim of encouraging and energizing college students across the Democratic political spectrum—particularly those who are less than excited about Joe Biden. It is written by Sidney Essex (instagram: @sidney.essex, twitter: @essexsidney), a Biden Policy Expert on the Campaigns Committee.
On Tuesday, August 25, just before midnight, protesters demanding justice for Jacob Blake in Kenosha bore witness to a sight burned into the collective consciousness of every American: a teenage, right-wing media radical cradling a weapon of war, ready to use it in his self-appointed role of vigilante judge, jury, and executioner. Kyle Rittenhouse went on to take two lives that night, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber, who tried to disarm him with nothing but a skateboard. Tragically, these men contributed to the approximate 100 American gun deaths on that day, and to the 37,000 gun deaths of 2020.
Of course, no college student in this country needs shocking statistics or images of AR-15 toting vigilantes to understand that America is suffering from a plague of gun violence. We need only remember our time spent huddled in the corner of a dark elementary school classroom with the door locked—often before we were old enough to understand the meaning of the words “active shooter.”
The best hope that America has of taking control of its gun violence problem is to elect President Biden, the politician responsible for some of the most comprehensive gun control action in American history, from shepherding the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act through Congress in 1993, to helping to secure a 10-year ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines in 1994, to working to develop over two-dozen legislative proposals and executive actions after the horror of Sandy Hook. On his first day on the job, Biden will begin to reverse the damage done by the Trump administration by reinstating key Obama-era regulations, especially the ban on gun ownership for those the Social Security Administration has deemed mentally incapable of handling their own affairs. He will also reinstate the 1994 ban on the production of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, while regulating those that already exist through the National Firearms Act—requiring owners to undergo a background check and register their weapon with the ATF, in the same way they must silencers and short barrel rifles. Owners will also have the option of reselling their weapon in a federal buyback program.
The former Vice President supports legislation requiring federal background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows, and closing the Charleston and hate crime loopholes, which respectively allow someone to complete a gun purchase if the background check isn’t completed in three business days and allow someone to purchase a firearm even if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime. He’ll close the online loophole by banning internet gun and ammunition sales absolutely. He plans to shift America towards the future by protecting smart-gun manufacturers from the bullying of the NRA, and incentivize more gun manufacturers to move into this space. Crucially, he’ll use federal funding to incentivize states to enact stricter gun laws, particularly gun licensing and registry programs.
Perhaps most important, considering the events in Kenosha, Joe Biden is planning to clamp down on the connection between extremism, abuse, and gun violence. He plans to create a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to research the connections between internet radicalization, domestic violence, online sexual abuse of women and minors, and potential gun violence, and to consider federal regulations and recommendations for state governments. Biden also has plans to fund and enable the FBI and DOJ to uphold and enforce the background check system and hold straw buyers accountable. On the legislative side, he will pressure the Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act to prevent gun violence in the home. If it fails to act, he will take executive action to prohibit individuals convicted of stalking, battery, or assault from purchasing firearms. He will also instruct law enforcement to conduct an evidenced-based lethality assessment in cases of domestic violence, preventing users from accessing firearms, and to prosecute adults who provide weapons to minors, such as Lynda Cruz, who allowed her son to arm himself before he carried out the mass murder at Parkland.
It is easy to characterize Joe Biden as out of touch with the youthful, progressive wing of his party, as an old career politician to grudgingly settle for rather than get excited about. But Biden’s is a bold, forward-thinking agenda to end the tragic epidemic of preventable American gun violence. I challenge any college student who has practiced cowering in an active shooter drill, or worse, experienced the unimaginable trauma and loss of gun violence, not to be excited about that.