President Joe Biden gives his 2023 state of the union speech
President Joe Biden gives his 2023 state of the union speech / White House

Biden Doubles Down on AR-15 Ban in State of the Union Speech

Headed into a tough re-election bid, President Joe Biden signaled he would stay the course on his aggressive push for new gun restrictions during his speech to the nation on Thursday.

The President laid out his view of how the country is fairing and his agenda for a potential second term. Part of that agenda is to pass new gun restrictions. Biden indicated passing and signing a new ban on popular firearms such as the AR-15 and other so-called “assault weapons” was at the top of his priority list on that front.

“I’m demanding a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden said in his State of the Union address.

The comments echo the President’s previous State of the Union speeches.

In 2023, he said, “We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines again.”

“And folks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold up to 100 rounds,” he said in 2022. “You think the deer are wearing kevlar vests?”

President Biden’s doubling down on new gun restrictions that are popular among his base but contentious among the general public may hamper his re-election efforts. With Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by a couple of points the entire year, how swing voters come out by November may well decide the election. But Biden, who has focused his efforts on imposing new gun restrictions either through legislation or executive actions, has shown no sign of attempting to reach undecided voters who may not favor new gun bans.

Biden was able to sign the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in 2022, which added new groups to the list of people prohibited from owning guns in decades. But most gun policy movement during his first term has come in the form of federal rulemaking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Those efforts to unilaterally enact new restrictions have faced tough scrutiny from the federal courts. ATF rules aimed at banning or severely limiting the sale of used gun sales by private parties, pistol braces, and unfinished firearms parts have all been challenged in court. Several have been found unconstitutional by federal judges to this point, though the administration has been allowed to continue enforcing them as appeals play out.

But the BSCA and the ATF rules have not won Biden much favor with the public as approval of how he’s handed gun policy has floundered. Americans have also become less supportive of an assault weapons ban in recent years, despite President Biden making it his top legislative priority when it comes to guns.

Still, Biden highlighted the 2022 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. He said the violence should motivate Congress to pass a universal background check bill in addition to an assault weapons ban. He aslo touted his establishment of a special office dedicated to gun control initiatives.

“None of this violates the Second Amendment or vilifies responsible gun owners,” he insisted.

Of course, Donald Trump hasn’t shown any willingness to move to the middle on gun policy either. Despite gun rights taking a back seat in the Republican primary, Trump has made some efforts to woo gun voters. He made a series of policy promises in a speech to NRA members at a Pennsylvania gun show last month, many of which revolved around undoing President Biden’s efforts.

“Every single Biden attack on gun owners and manufacturers will be terminated my very first week back in office,” Trump told the NRA crowd to cheers.

Trump promised to enact national reciprocity for gun-carry permits and silencer deregulation during the event. But most of the runtime of his speech that was focused on guns featured ferocious attacks on his opponent.

“Joe Biden and his thugs will do everything in their power to confiscate your guns and annihilate your God-given right to self-defense,” he said. “A meaningful Second Amendment, which you have, it’s under siege. They got nowhere with me, but there are a lot of other things happening with Biden.”

Biden responded to those comments in his Thursday night remarks.

“My predecessor told the NRA he’s proud he did nothing on guns when he was President,” Biden said. “After another school shooting in Iowa he said we should just ‘get over it.’ I say we must stop it. I’m proud we beat the NRA when I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years! Now we must beat the NRA again!”

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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