In the wake of the heinous December 2012 attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, Vice President Joe Biden was tasked with coaxing Congress into supporting the gun control measures put forth by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), but Biden failed to deliver.
Manchin’s bill went down in flames on April 17, 2013, and with it Biden’s chance to prove he could step up to the plate and deliver when called upon in a situation where popular sentiment was actually bent toward gun control.
That moment is long past, but Politico has not forgotten. In fact, on October 12 Politico reported that they have interviewed a number of people who were involved in the 2013 gun control push, and they indicate “Biden made several strategic missteps that delayed action and may have sacrificed the emotional pull that offered a chance to break a historic logjam.”
Many of those interviewed by Politico indicated that Biden’s tactic of “schmoozing former colleagues” lost its effectiveness as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months before a vote on gun control was even held. Moreover, Biden attended very few of the “20 meetings with advocates from both sides of the debate”–meetings that were held to frame an approach that could secure passage.
Instead, he relegated everything to Senate Democrats, who proved unable to secure passage of the gun control measures.
Part of the problem with the way Biden relegated things was the fact that he was working behind the scenes to get the most liberal of Democrats to be satisfied with the passage of expanded background checks alone while speaking publicly about the need to pass an “assault weapons” ban as well. His calls for a renewed “assault weapons” ban were seen as a way to show “respect for longtime [gun control] crusaders like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).” But the end result was media “coverage that focused on discord within the Democratic Party.”
In effect, Biden led the Democrats in a push for everything and got nothing.
But a spokesman for Biden assured Politico that he is still focused on gun control and that there is”no cause that matters more to Vice President Biden than guns.”
Via email the spokesman said:
[Biden] has been in this battle for a long time and is the author of the last significant gun control legislation. Since Newtown, he worked to get 25 executive actions implemented and spent countless hours working with Congress to pass legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. And that is why he has continued to press for additional actions. This fight is a long way from being over.
These claims aside, the fight that Biden was tasked with winning is over. In poll after poll a majority of Americans–consisting largely of Independents and Republicans–say they see no need for more gun control, while a minority of Americans–consisting almost entirely of Democrats–are still in favor of placing more gun controls on the backs of law-abiding citizens. But pro-gun Republicans and Independents won the day on April 17, 2013, when Manchin’s gun control bill was defeated, and they won more than that on November 4, 2014, when gun control Democrats were trounced by pro-Second Amendment candidates in the mid-term elections.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.