Against Weapons and Police: Biden’s Reforms Can Divide Americans

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has created some expectations among Americans, especially among progressive Democrats and left-leaning activists, which may lead to internal strife in the United States.

First, Biden promised to tighten gun control during his presidential campaign. In particular, he promised to strengthen background checks on gun buyers and to strictly track the history of the guns themselves. More to the point, there are many “ghost guns” in the United States, handmade guns that are difficult to track.

In addition, Biden expressed readiness to limit the manufacture of assault weapons and high-capacity firearms holding more than 10 rounds of magazines. It is the multi-shot auto-loading rifles that have worsened numerous tragedies in U.S. schools and churches in recent years.

Another important Biden initiative is to eliminate immunity for gun manufacturers for crimes committed with their weapons.

It was expected that one of the first steps after Biden’s inauguration would be to call on Congress to pass a gun control law. It would seem that the current moment for this could hardly be more opportune, as the National Rifle Association has partially lost its influence and popularity in the last two years, precisely due to the tragedies of 2019.

A month has passed, but there hasn’t been a push for legislative action. Public anti-gun organizations have begun asking questions about this issue at White House briefings. Recently, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, directly stated that the bill simply does not exist yet.

Second, Biden promised to pass a law that would eliminate or significantly limit qualified immunity for police officers.

The doctrine of qualified immunity protects police officers from legal charges of abuse of power and excessive violence. Soon after the wave of 2019 protests, such a law had been discussed in Congress, but did not find support from the majority of representatives. African American and Latin American communities have high hopes for this law, which in its radical version is being promoted by the Democratic representatives of these communities in the House of Representatives.

It turned out, however, that while the Democrats have concentrated power in Washington, there is a lack of consensus among those in the House of Representatives over how to limit qualified immunity for police officers.

Radical Democrats demand that the party pass the bill in its rather rigid version voted for by House Democrats alone, and when it comes up for a vote in the Senate, only then will the radicals adjust the bill. Moderate Democrats insist that this House bill be drafted together with Republicans, because the bill will need 60 votes to gain approval in the Senate. In other words, provided all 50 Democratic senators vote “yes,” at least 10 Republican votes are required to break a filibuster.

Third, Lloyd Austin, the newly appointed secretary of defense, has taken an unprecedented step for the U.S. military. He ordered all military units to lead discussions focusing on the growing danger of racism and domestic terrorism within the nation’s armed forces.

These discussions should last one day and involve all units of the U.S. armed forces. How exactly this will work is still a bit vague.

The reason for this step is that there were dozens of former soldiers among those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The risk that this step may pose consists of the possible accusations, which have already been voiced, of initiating a witch hunt and political propaganda in the military ranks. Until now, the U.S. military has always been proud to be above party disputes and beyond politics — at least, beyond U.S. domestic politics.

As is almost always the case, it is about the next election. Many GOP voters are opposed to gun control. And many support the idea of “law and order,” which requires expanded protections for police officers.

A large number of Americans may not like the idea of politicizing the army. These three circumstances threaten to challenge Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections. Vice President Kamala Harris casts the deciding vote, allowing the Democrats to have a majority in the Senate. Democrats maintain their House majority now, but lost 14 seats in November 2020.

The author, Maxim Karizhsky, is the head of the consulting company Karizhsky Communications.

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