Sunday, Joe Biden the empathetic will certainly find the words in the face of the families of the schoolchildren killed in Texas, but the president has so far remained in the background of the political battle over firearms, betting on a parliamentary mobilization yet far from being. acquired.
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“He can’t just be the ‘chief comforter’. He must put all the weight of his function in the legislative battle, ”said Peter Ambler, of the Giffords association, which fights for stronger regulation, in an interview with Politico.
So far, the 79-year-old Democrat seems reluctant, which has to do a little with his personality and a lot with a strategic calculation.
Joe Biden is an emotional, twice-bereaved father — but not through the fault of the guns: He lost a still-baby daughter in a car accident, and an adult son to cancer.
The president takes this role of “chief comforter” to heart. He wants to believe that the Americans, despite their divisions, are able to mourn together the 19 schoolchildren and 2 teachers victims of a shooting at a school in Uvalde (Texas), where he will go with his wife Jill Biden.
But if Joe Biden favors the register of emotion and questioning for the time being – “When for the love of God are we going to face the gun lobby?” he had exclaimed on Tuesday – it is also by political calculation.
A former senator, attached to parliamentary power, he wants Congress to pass a bill that would generalize the examination of the psychiatric and judicial backgrounds of arms buyers, while prohibiting assault rifles and the massive purchase of ammunition.
“We did what we could. (…) But there right now, we need the help of Congress, ”said executive spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday.
The White House believes that a strong involvement of Joe Biden, at a time when he is very unpopular in the polls, would disrupt an already acrobatic legislative process more than anything else.
The Democrats, who support the bill, absolutely need to convince a handful of elected Republicans, because of qualified majority rules.
Joe Biden has also so far refrained from openly criticizing the Republican opposition, the majority hostile to any reform. And some of whose members are campaigning for the November legislative elections on their attachment to firearms.
The US executive also argues that a federal law would have much more impact than presidential decrees that are not binding on all US states and can only regulate at the margins.
But several groups campaigning for the regulation of firearms believe, without doubting the convictions of the president, that he must get more involved.
Igor Volsky, director of the organization Guns Down America, thus judges on Twitter that the president could create in the White House an agency specially dedicated to firearms, criss-cross the country to meet affected communities, receive activists and put pressure personally on parliamentarians. “That would be the bare minimum,” he wrote.
The associations fear that the United States will fall back into the scenario that has become sadly familiar after a mass shooting: a wave of emotion that subsides before turning into real political pressure, likely to lead to significant reforms.
The shock caused by the massacre at the school of Uvalde was in any case not enough to interrupt the institutional routine.
The Congress thus suspended its work and the parliamentarians scattered in their constituencies for a ten-day break, planned for a long time.