On Sunday, sympathetic Joe Biden will surely find words in the face of the families of schoolchildren murdered in Texas, but the president has so far been in the background of the political battle over firearms, betting on a parliamentary mobilization but is far from being .earned.
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“He can’t just be the ‘main comforter.’ He must put all the weight of his job into the legislative battle,” Peter Ambler of the Giffords Society, which is fighting for stronger regulation, said in an interview with Politico.
So far, the 79-year-old Democrat appears to be hesitant, which he should do less with his personality and more with strategic calculus.
Joe Biden is a twice-bereaved emotional father — but not because of guns: he lost a still-infant daughter in a car accident, and an adult son to cancer.
The president takes the role of “main comforter” very seriously. He wants to believe that Americans, despite their divisions, are able to mourn together for the 19 students and two teachers who were victims of the Ovaldi (Texas) school shooting, where he is going with his wife, Jill Biden.
But if Joe Biden would rather record the sentiment and wonder right now – “When will God’s love face the gun lobby?” He had shouted on Tuesday – it’s also by political calculations.
A former senator, tied to parliamentary power, wants Congress to pass a bill that would popularize the psychological and judicial background checks of gun buyers, while banning assault rifles and massive ammunition purchases.
“We’ve done what we can. (…) But there now, we need Congress’ help,” said executive spokeswoman Karen-Jean-Pierre on Thursday.
The White House believes that the strong involvement of Joe Biden, at a time when he is not very popular in the polls, would disrupt the already acrobatic legislative process more than anything else.
Democrats, who support the bill, desperately need to convince a handful of elected Republicans, due to qualified majority rules.
Joe Biden has also so far refrained from public criticism of the Republican opposition, the majority hostile to any reform. Some of its members are campaigning for the November legislative elections because of their association with firearms.
The US executive also argues that federal law will have a much greater impact than presidential decrees that are not binding on all US states and can only be regulated on the sidelines.
But many groups that fight for gun regulation believe, without questioning the president’s convictions, that he should get more involved.
Thus, Igor Volsky, director of Guns Down America, rules on Twitter that the president can set up in the White House a dedicated firearms agency, go around the country to interview affected communities, greet activists and personally lobby parliamentarians. “That would be the bare minimum,” he wrote.
The associations fear that the United States will revert to the scenario that has unfortunately become familiar after a mass shooting: a wave of emotion that subsides before it turns into real political pressure, likely to lead to major reforms.
The shock of the massacre at the Ovaldi School was in no way enough to stop the institutional routine.
And so the Congress suspended its work, and the parliamentarians scattered into their constituencies for a ten-day recess, planned for a long time.
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