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After Texas school shooting, Joe Biden should follow Kamala Harris' lead on guns – San Francisco Examiner

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks before President Joe Biden signs an executive order aimed at reforming policing practices, at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks before President Joe Biden signs an executive order aimed at reforming policing practices, at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)
by The Examiner Editorial Board
After every new gun massacre, our nation’s leaders repeat the same old political rituals. The act of expressing sympathy in the aftermath of another mass shooting has become shockingly routine.
Republicans express “thoughts and prayers” or “horror and heartbreak” while refusing to do anything about the deadly scourge of guns. Democrats call for gun safety legislation and criticize Republicans for their refusal to cross the National Rifle Association. Nothing gets done in Washington, D.C.
The massacres continue.
The latest mass shooting, at an elementary school in Texas, took the lives of 19 children and two teachers. On Thursday, Joe Garcia — the husband of murdered teacher Irma Garcia — died of a heart attack after visiting a memorial to the victims. His death brings the toll to 22.
The Uvalde school massacre comes only two weeks after an 18-year-old racist killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. In 2022, there have been 27 mass shootings in the United States, including a shooting last week at an Orange County church that left one dead and five wounded.
We all know what comes next. Just as these killings begin to fade from the news, another mass gun murder will take place. Our political “leaders,” Democratic and Republican alike, will go through the usual motions.
Shoot, tweet, repeat.
“How many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — seen their friends die as if they’re in a battlefield, for god’s sake” said President Joe Biden after the shooting. “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest.”
“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” he asked. “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?”
These are important questions, and the president can do more than demand answers. He can use the power of his office to demand action by Congress — or enact tougher gun safety measures through executive action.
Biden can start by adopting the ideas Vice President Kamala Harris outlined during her presidential campaign.
Fully aware of Congress’ inability to act on gun safety due to Republican intransigence, Harris offered a creative plan to elevate the issue and save lives through the use of executive orders. She said she’d give Congress 100 days to act on gun safety legislation. If Congress failed, she said she would use the powers of the presidency to expand gun safety rules.
“There are people in Washington, D.C., supposed leaders, who have failed to have the courage to reject a false choice which suggests you’re either in favor of the second amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away,” said Harris at a CNN town hall in 2019.
On her list of potential actions: A plan to expand federal background checks for gun sellers, a plan to close the “boyfriend loophole” which allows some perpetrators of domestic violence to buy guns, and a plan to prevent people with arrest warrants from buying guns.
“Harris said such a change could be accomplished through a regulation issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” wrote Tal Kopan of the San Francisco Chronicle in 2019. “Mostly Democratic efforts in Congress in recent years to expand the background-check requirement have failed to pass.”
With Republicans repeating the same old bloodstained NRA-sponsored talking points in the aftermath of the Uvalde killings, it’s clear no amount of child murder will spur them to action. This, however, is no excuse for Democratic leaders to throw their hands in the air or seek shelter from platitudes.
By the blood of the murdered children not yet buried, Biden should adopt Harris’ strategy and give Congress 100 days to act. With polls showing that a majority of Americans support increased gun safety, Biden must frame the debate. He must put cowardly politicians on the defensive and make them explain to the American people why the NRA’s blood money matters more than the lives of our children.
Police in Uvalde have rightfully come under heavy criticism because they waited for over an hour before they stormed the classroom where the gunman, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, had barricaded himself with his victims. But our leaders in Washington have twiddled their thumbs for decades while the bodies have piled up and gun massacres have become a sick national sport.
On Thursday, Sen. Mitch McConnell suggested that Republicans are open to working on gun safety legislation, but it would be foolish to take him at his word. The president must use his bully pulpit to increase public pressure.
How many more children must bleed out on the floors of their classrooms before someone in Washington finds a way to make progress on this life and death issue?
The inaction of Republicans is no longer an excuse for the inaction of Democrats. If Republicans in Congress can’t bring themselves to put the lives of children ahead of the NRA’s interests, President Biden must show some backbone by enacting gun safety measures through executive order.

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