President Joe Biden’s unpopular gun control moves are doing little to appease his gun control donor class. Worse, those same moves are distancing him from voters that clearly see crime as a central issue and gun ownership as a right to be protected.
Among the unpopular policy positions dragging down his presidency is his myopic focus on gun control instead of crime control. The Biden White House has pursued the most far-reaching and radical gun control agenda of any president, previously naming a gun control lobbyist to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) whose nomination was defeated when not even all Senate Democrats could support the nominee.
Biden has since nominated Steve Dettelbach, who once campaigned for public office on a gun control platform. President Biden is also circumventing Congress’s authority to write laws by issuing an administrative rule to redefine frames and receivers and ban arm braces on AR-style pistols and instituting a top-down policy of “zero tolerance” inspections that would revoke licenses of firearm retailers instead of working with small business owners to correct minor clerical errors.
On top of that, President Biden is facing two additional factors not working in his favor on gun control and lawful gun ownership. Gun control groups are livid that President Biden hasn’t delivered their goal of disarming the American population. He was rated just a “D+” by gun control groups exasperated that he hasn’t ruled like a dictator to unilaterally ban entire classes of firearms and delivered a laundry list of gun control “must-haves,” including a Cabinet-adjacent position that’s outside of Senate confirmation to push even more gun control policies.
Voters Are Worried About Criminals, Not Legal Gun Owners
At the same time, many voters aren’t behind Biden’s radical gun control agenda. Support for gun control is dropping. After high-profile criminal incidents that captured the news cycles, including the New York City subway attack and the gang-related murders in Sacramento, Calif., voters are seeing that gun control isn’t the pressing issue. Crime is.
The Biden administration is attempting to “bait-and-switch” public opinion to ignore inaction on curbing crime and lay the blame on lawful gun owners. The president has repeatedly used the bully pulpit to demand everything from universal background checks (which would require every law-abiding gun owner to be listed on a government watchlist) to the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prevents frivolous lawsuits against the firearm industry for the actions of criminals.
He repeats claims that have been debunked time and again, including that Americans couldn’t buy a cannon when the Bill of Rights was enacted. In fact, it is perfectly legal for an individual to own a cannon today.
President Biden isn’t just facing a public that’s more concerned about crime than cracking down on gun owners. He’s also facing an electorate that abandoned him on his push to relegate lawful gun ownership to the fringe.
Gun Owners Are Growing and Diversifying
More than 21 million background checks were conducted for the sale of a firearm in 2020, the year Biden was elected. Another 18.5 million were tallied in 2021. Among those gun buyers were nearly 14 million between 2020 and 2021 who purchased a firearm for the first time.
Those gun owners are increasingly from many parts of America, with more African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans taking up lawful gun ownership. Women gun owners are increasingly a larger force in firearm purchasers, making up one of the fastest-growing demographics of gun owners.
Simple election math indicates these are growing gun-owning demographic groups that don’t easily overlay traditional Republican voters. That means the gun-owning tent is getting bigger and makes the path to winning a White House election more complicated than parroting the talking points fed by special interest gun control groups.
That’s got some analysts warning Democrats – including President Biden – to back off of their gun control push. Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, wrote in an op-ed saying the substantial increases of women and minority gun owners over the past two years are changing the calculus. These are core Democrat voting blocks.
More troubling for Democrats is that, even a few years ago, 48 percent of self-identified independents said they owned or lived with someone who owned a gun. That swayable middle is the crown jewel in any election.
Voting Blocks Are Already Shifting
According to Feldman, last year’s off-cycle elections in New Jersey and Virginia are telling. New Jersey’s Republican state Sen. Ed Durr defeated long-serving Democrat state Senate President Steve Sweeney by 2,300 votes in deep-blue New Jersey. Durr initiated his campaign because he couldn’t obtain a concealed-carry permit.
While critical race theory in education was the hottest-button issue in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, former Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe campaigned on expanding gun control in the Commonwealth, including an outright ban on AR-15s. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin vowed to protect gun rights. Feldman pointed out that a 1 percent shift in the voter turnout would mean McAuliffe would be governor today.
Virginia’s Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears embodied the shift in voting blocks that helped hand victory to the Republican ticket. She’s African-American and her campaign photos included some of her holding her AR-15. Sears told The New York Times “I look like the strategy” for future elections.
That means rethinking where certain demographics fall in the political spectrum. Attitudes are shifting, and new gun owners of all backgrounds are voting with their wallets when it comes to their values of lawful firearm ownership.