(UnitedVoice.com) – Throughout the Democratic primaries and the general election, former vice president Joe Biden promised he would take the country in a different direction than Donald Trump. He isn’t waiting. The potential President-elect hasn’t even been elected by the Electoral College yet, and he’s already promising to take gun control into his own hands through executive actions instead of through Congress.
Biden is no stranger to gun control. As a US Senator from Delaware, he led the charge for the background checks used when someone purchases a gun from a licensed gun dealer. During the Clinton years, the former Senator was responsible for helping pass legislation that put a ten-year ban on assault weapons. That legislation expired in President Obama’s first term.
What Biden Promised
Biden promises to end the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Last fall, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said he would come after legally purchased assault rifles. In March, O’Rourke endorsed Biden. Biden said he would appoint the former Congressman from Texas as his point man on gun control, “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort.”
Biden Likely to Pursue Executive Orders to Enforce Gun Control
Executive orders were a staple during the Obama years when the former president couldn’t get legislation through a Republican-dominated Congress. Biden faces the same possibility again if one of two Republican senators wins a runoff election in Georgia come January 5. Even if they don’t, Democrats will need virtually every member of their caucus to push gun legislation through Congress. With such small margins and many Democrats from gun districts, that may be harder than it appears.
Late last week, the national policy director of Biden’s presidential campaign, Stef Feldman, said Biden is planning a list of initial executive actions, and gun control is near the top. In an online event with Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Feldman confirmed Biden would be taking executive actions on guns and other major policy agenda items.
Which Is Better: Law or Executive Orders?
According to the CATO Institute, the Supreme Court overturned Obama’s executive orders more than any other modern president. Even Obama’s own justices were voting against him. In total, Obama recorded 44 unanimous losses, from digital privacy to land ownership and climate change, and beyond.
However, one area the former president didn’t focus on much was gun control. Obama’s most significant executive action required disability-benefit recipients of Social Security to pass an FBI background check. In 2017, President Trump rescinded that order.
Therein lies the problem for Biden. Executive orders come, and they can go just as quickly with the election of a new president. They are short-term in nature and risk swift, easy revocation with the stroke of a pen. Only Congress can put in permanent laws through the legislative process.
Adding another problem: Executive actions without the weight of law make them suspect in a courtroom, especially when a right is Constitutionally guaranteed.
Biden may try many things to control guns. However, it will be interesting to see how the federal courts, which were reshaped by President Trump, react to cases that will likely come before them if Biden takes matters into his own hands.
Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst
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