CAROLINA COAST ONLINE.COM DECEMBER 10, 2020 – The gun debate in America will soon enter a new chapter with a Democrat in the White House after four years under President Donald Trump in which gun control advocates developed a long wish list for reform amid a spate of large-scale mass killings in places like Las Vegas, El Paso and Parkland, Florida.
But any hope that Joe Biden will usher in a new era of restrictions on firearms is highly unlikely because of the same polarization in Washington that has tripped up similar efforts under past administrations.
The items on the agenda — largely relegated to the political shelf in recent years — include renewing a ban on AR-style rifles, universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity magazines and a federal red flag law designed to prevent people at risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing a firearm.
But virtually all of those will require Congress to act. And regardless the outcome in two Senate races in Georgia that will determine which party holds the majority in that chamber, it will be a tall order to get a majority of lawmakers on board.
One key reason is because the issues have become so polarized. Years ago, gun politics crossed party lines, and it was easier for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground.
“It used to be a cross-cutting issue, there used to be Democrats that were very pro-gun and Democratic legislators who won districts in part on their pro-gun views,” said Matt Grossmann, an associate professor at Michigan State University and director of its Institute for Public Policy and Social Research who follows gun politics. “And you just don’t have that anymore.”
The number of firearms in circulation has mushroomed in the past 12 years, starting in President Barack Obama’s administration when gun owners feared he would push through significant restrictions.
It continued unabated during Trump’s lone term. In the first years of his tenure, Americans amassed firearms amid fears about new gun measures following mass killings. The gun buying picked up even more steam in the past year as civil unrest, economic turmoil and the pandemic propelled unparalleled buying sprees.
And with the pandemic dominating the conversation, guns took a back seat in the 2020 election.
Gun control groups still want to be heard, however. For one, they want universal background checks that would require the review for virtually every sale of a firearm, and a ban on online sales of firearms, ammunition and parts. [full article]