- US President Joe Biden has declared himself in favor of better regulation of the carrying of weapons in the United States, after yet another shooting in the country.
- A very strong political stance for a president who until then had been rather centrist in his actions.
- For Alexis Pichard, researcher in American civilization, this is the whole point of the maneuver: to give pledges to his political camp by engaging in this American divide.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called on Congress to act on guns and spoke out in favor of a ban on assault rifles, in the aftermath of a Colorado supermarket shooting that resulted in 10 dead. A position far from achieving consensus in a country more divided and polarized than ever.
Did the president make a risky choice, he who could boast of perfectly managing the vaccination campaign of the United States or of having established a popular recovery plan with the Americans? For Alexis Pichard, researcher in American civilization, Joe Biden does not seek to achieve unanimity but to rally his camp.
How much leeway does Joe Biden have when it comes to carrying arms?
Like its predecessors, it has very little power of action on this subject. It risks being quickly blocked by the Senate, since 60 votes are needed for a text to be voted on, and there are only 50 Democrats. Republicans will never vote to legislate the bearing of arms, let alone if the proposal comes from a Democratic president.
It is no coincidence that there has been no far-reaching legislation since 2003 on the subject, despite the annual controversies. Even a Barack Obama who is very adamant about the issue, and who cried on the screen after some shootings, failed to convey anything as a big change. In addition, during the year 2020 there was an upsurge in the sale of arms with the wind of general panic in America with the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter. Weapons are doing very well across the Atlantic.
Are the Republicans likely to jump at the chance to finally find criticism to emit against Joe Biden?
If the subject of the carrying of a weapon particularly divides the two camps, the Republicans did not wait for Joe Biden to speak on this subject to criticize his mandate or seek to put obstacles in the way. For example, all Republicans voted against the stimulus plan, although it also benefited the Republican states and was overwhelmingly supported by the population.
Joe Biden is also widely criticized by Republicans for his handling of immigration. It tries both to reconcile a more human or at least humanist position on illegal immigrants, especially minors, by no longer separating them from their families, while maintaining a hard position on illegal immigration. “I can say clearly: don’t come,” he told immigrants in an interview on ABC. This in-between position where he is tripping his feet in the carpet is already the fat of the Republicans, who are trying to capitalize politically on this funny and much criticized management.
It is nevertheless certain that the Republicans strongly support the Second Amendment, which authorizes the carrying of a weapon, very anchored culturally in the United States, and that the declarations of Joe Biden will make react. All the more so since during the campaign, he was presented by his opponents as being anti-arms and anti-police, a puppet of the ultra-left and of the antifas who wanted to disarm America and its police. It is an easy and effective angle of attack for Republicans.
Isn’t that suddenly a risky statement from the president?
Joe Biden is certainly a follower of bipartisanship and collaboration with the Republicans, but we must not kid ourselves, the latter will always be opposed to his actions no matter what. They voted against a stimulus plan that also benefits them. The president must therefore ensure above all his own base, the Democrats, and give pledges to his most radical supporters.
Many Democrats also remain fundamentally attached to this right but want it to be better framed. Even Joe Biden doesn’t characterize himself as an anti-gun person, he just wants a tougher background check law and a ban on only assault rifles, the majority used in shootings.
Are Americans really divided on the issue?
Almost 40% of Americans own a gun in their home, but there are 300 million guns in the United States. It shows how some Americans have none, and others have a veritable arsenal of war. The Republican camp is fairly united around a total deregulation of the carrying of weapons, while the Democratic camp is more fractured even if there is a quasi-consensus on the fact of reforming this law and applying more control. pushed.
It is a long cultural war between progressives and conservatives, which does not date from yesterday. Arms have taken a prominent place in American society and debates for decades. In recent years, we have witnessed exacerbated tensions with an increasingly polarized political spectrum, the most obvious example being the presidency of Donald Trump. The issues that fracture America have long been the same, but now there is no more consensus or dialogue possible.