Posted by 30 November 2020
When Joe Biden takes office on January 20, many progressives are pushing him to enact a variety of policies that break with the Trump Administration's actions over the past four years. One high-profile area where Biden will likely act is on gun laws. His proposals to place more federal restrictions on gun ownership will meet sharp opposition from Republicans in Congress, however.
During his time in the U.S. Senate and as vice president, Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of gun control. During the 2020 campaign, he outlined a variety of proposals that he says would help stem gun violence. These include:
- Ban online sales of guns and gun parts
- Ban the sale of certain types of semi-automatic guns known as "assault weapons"
- Ban the sale of high-capacity magazines
- Mandate a background check for all transfers of guns, including those between private individuals
- Repeal a federal law that prevents gun manufacturers from being sued for the misuse of their products
- Prohibit individuals from purchasing multiple guns in a month
- Require gun owners to lock up their guns, report them if stolen, and be held legally liable if minors have access to them
Biden contends that these ideas are necessary to reduce murder and suicide rates. He and his supporters argue that these stricter laws will deter crime while still preserving firearm access to those who want them for hunting. Opponents, however, point out that there is little evidence that gun control laws actually reduce crime rates. They note that many criminals already evade current gun laws so these new proposals would simply infringe upon the rights of legitimate gun owners.
To enact these proposals, however, Congress must act. The last time a major gun control package passed Congress was in the mid-1990s. If Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate, none of these proposals is likely to even come to a vote in that chamber. As president, Biden can pursue some gun control measures through executive orders, but his ability to do so is limited.
Do you think the federal government should impose new restrictions on gun ownership?