Biden Again Ducks Gun Control – What Would Slash Deaths; No-Cost Incentives to States to Adopt Measures Which Do Work
Biden's Broken Promises Regarding Gun Control
WASHINGTON D.C. (June 23, 2021) - Joe Biden, a president who has repeatedly broken his promises regarding gun control, will unveil new measures unlikely to have much impact, but he is ignoring a very potent tool which would bring about gun controls which would be effective, and which are strongly supported by a majority of the public, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
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Banzhaf notes that Biden broke his campaign promise to send a bill to Congress on his first day in office repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers and closing background-check loopholes. He never did and, perhaps more seriously, never explained why he broke this promise, and to this day has not sent such a bill.
Then, to add insult to injury, he engaged in a wide variety of executive actions in the days immediately after being sworn in, but none of them related directly or even indirectly to firearms and shooting deaths. Again, he failed to explain to the public why this life-and-death issue wasn't addressed, even in part, by the many executive actions which he did find time to take.
More recently, Biden promised, in response to the two mass shootings, to "use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe" - a promise many interpreted as agreeing to take prompt executive actions since effective gun control measures appear unlikely to get legislative approval.
But, argues Banzhaf, Biden has refused to used a major resources at his disposal which is time-tested, worked well in other situations, and would cost taxpayers nothing, says the professor.
An Effective Executive Gun Violence Action
The most effective executive gun violence action Biden can take now, and which arguably he should take quickly to deal with these repeated failures and broken promises, would be to provide a powerful incentive for individual states to adopt their own strong gun control laws - e.g., limits on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, more and better background checks, red flag laws, etc. - using a well established and generally accepted technique clearly within his executive powers and not subject to court challenge, argues Prof. Banzhaf.
If the President were to simply announce that federal grant applications related to crime prevention and law enforcement will be accepted - or at least given preference - only from states, and entities within states, which have comprehensive gun control laws in place by a stated date, he would put enormous pressure on individual states to adopt the types of measures he himself has publicly proposed, and which the public overwhelmingly supports, but which the U.S. Senate is apparently unlikely to adopt.
After all, says Banzhaf, it makes little sense to give tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars in federal grants for fighting gun violence to states which refuse to adopt minimal gun control laws to protect their own citizens.
Requiring or even strongly pressuring states which want federal law enforcement grants, to have in place gun control measures which meet certain minimum standards and requirements, would put very strong pressure on individual states to take effective actions aimed at reducing gun violence, since few states would want to risk losing out on vital law enforcement grants, not only for themselves as states, but also for their cities, counties, towns, and even PBAs and other nonprofit organizations.
Imposing Conditions To Receive Federal Grants
Since government grants and the conditions under which they are to be awarded are largely discretionary, such directives from the President would be perfectly legal - unlike any executive order attempting to directly impose federal restrictions related to guns - e.g., bans on assault weapons and/or large capacity magazines - which would be subject to legal challenge.
Indeed, imposing conditions to receive federal grants (e.g., to protect the environment, not to discriminate, etc.) are commonplace, generally accepted, and have been used successfully and very effectively by numerous administrations for many years. Fortunately, the Congressional Research Service agrees, and has spelled out the legal basis for imposing such conditions in its "The Federal Government's Authority to Impose Conditions on Grant Funds."
So a president who has already broken his pledge to send a bill to Congress on his first day in office repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers and closing background-check loopholes, and who has recently promised to "use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe," should consider what is probably the most effective executive action he can take now to save American lives from further gun violence, argues Banzhaf.