With violent crime on the rise in cities across the country, President Biden is attempting another high-wire act with a renewed push for gun control measures that could embolden his critics on both the right and dismay and divide his own party ahead of the critical 2022 midterm elections.
Biden’s focus on gun crimes could provide fodder for Second Amendment advocates who have accused him of attacking legal gun ownership and for Republican lawmakers who have argued Democratic calls to “defund the police” are most responsible for the crime wave. GOP strategists employed that tactic to great effect in down-ballot races during the 2020 election cycle.
The president also risks alienating progressives wary that his tactics will undercut their push for law enforcement reform, deepening party divisions at a time when Democratic control of Congress is in jeopardy. While many progressive Democrats have called for sweeping budget cuts for police, Biden’s plan encourages cities to use COVID-19 relief funds to hire more officers, among other measures.
The politically fraught climate ahead of an expected spike in crime this summer creates a “major vulnerability” for Biden and Democrats in general heading into the 2022 midterms, according to Whit Ayers, a prominent Republican political consultant and founder of North Star Opinion Research.
BIDEN TOUTS NEW CRIME PREVENTION STRATEGY FOCUSED ON GUN CONTROL
“One of the most potent criticisms over the last 40 years of Democrats is that they’re soft on crime and reluctant to crack down on crime,” Ayers said. “This surge and the forces on the far-left talking about defunding the police feed into the suspicious that Democrats are simply not serious about combating crime.”
Unveiled last month at a speech alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland, Biden’s anti-crime plan included a “zero tolerance” policy for federally licensed gun dealers who violate laws, a call for increased funding for the ATF, and the creation of “strike forces” to combat interstate weapons trafficking. The president noted states and cities can use $350 bill
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