[Opinion] Newly elected President Joe Biden must fulfill campaign promises on gun violence



President Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife, first lady Jill Biden, stands next to him during the 59th presidential inauguration. Photo courtesy of Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Ryan Servaites, Politics & Activism Editor

The transition of power from former President Donald Trump to now President Joe Biden on Jan. 20 was a hopeful moment for many. Biden ran on a platform of unity, attempting to distinguish himself from his electoral competitor on a range of issues that America could unite over.

Gun violence is one such issue. While gun violence prevention legislation is certainly a controversial platform, Biden made it clear that it was a project he was willing to undertake as far back as the Democratic Primary, with his official campaign policy proposals including measures such as banning the further production of assault weapons, instituting a firearm buyback program and implementing universal background checks. 

This disposition was confirmed when on Feb. 14, the three-year commemoration of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, an experience that many of us share, Biden released a statement calling on Congress to enact common-sense gun reform and promised that his administration would not wait until the next mass shooting to act on this issue. 

Biden’s platform and initiative are miles away from that of his predecessor. Trump all but overlooked the issue, despite being president while the events of Feb. 14 occurred at MSD. After posturing as if some form of gun violence policy change would be on the way, Trump eventually backed down and only banned bump-stocks, which, albeit is a welcome change, felt like more of a concession than any form of substantive solution to the issue.

In contrast to this, Biden offers activists and survivors a renewed sense of hope in an area of policy that has seen little change in recent history, but has the power to save lives and mitigate the epidemic of gun violence.

Biden’s platform is ambitious and comprehensive. Gun violence prevention was a frequent topic of his speeches and conversations on the campaign trail, and the then-candidate even mentioned the topic in a New York Times editorial piece.

Biden seems to have a clear and open opinion on this issue. However, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, well done is better than well said. 

When it comes to gun violence, Biden needs to be clear with his ambitions. With a sharply split Senate, there is no room for a concession before a bill even hits the table. 

Gun violence is a disease that has affected America for far too long. It has distorted and broken down American cities and towns. It completely upended life at MSD. It took from our community joy, love and 17 lives that we will never be able to get back. 

This is a systemic issue, and Biden is now a major player in that system. He must take the ambitious action he promises, and he must try his best to do it fast, and do it right.

This story was originally published in the March 2021 Eagle Eye print edition.