President Joe Biden on Tuesday repeated his call for a ban on assault weapons as he spoke in Buffalo, N.Y., in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting there.
Gun-control bills continue to face a tough road in the 50-50 Senate, however.
“Tragedies like the mass shooting last weekend in Buffalo lead gun-safety advocates to call for congressional action, but in our view, changes to federal gun laws are unlikely to pass. The 60-vote threshold to defeat a Senate filibuster makes passage of gun-control legislation challenging,” said a Beacon Policy Advisors analyst, Andrew Lokay, in an email to MarketWatch.
“Moreover, the Senate Democratic caucus is not unified on the issue, as shown by the failure of David Chipman’s nomination to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last year.”
From MarketWatch’s archives (September 2021): White House withdraws pro-gun-control ATF nominee after Senate opposition
In his Buffalo speech, Biden described Saturday’s mass shooting as “domestic terrorism” and blasted backers of the so-called great replacement conspiracy theory, while also pushing for legislative action.
“I know tragedy will come again. It cannot be forever overcome. It cannot be fully understood either. But there are certain things we can do. We can keep assault weapons off our streets. We’ve done it before,” the president said, referring to a 10-year federal ban on assault weapons that he helped negotiate and that expired in 2004.
Speaking with reporters at Buffalo’s airport before returning to Washington, D.C., Biden said he has to convince Congress to go back to what he passed years ago, adding that it’s going to be “very difficult,” but he’s not going to give up.
Biden has often advocated for gun-control measures since his inauguration, and his actions have included a new rule aimed at ghost guns, which are firearms that can be made at home from kits and are increasingly used in crimes.
“If the tragedy in Buffalo has an impact on federal gun-control policy, it is likely to be more limited. For example, President Biden could potentially make the confirmation of his new ATF nominee, Steve Dettelbach, a focus of a renewed gun-control push in the wake of this mass shooting,” Beacon’s Lokay said.
“The ATF has had only one permanent director confirmed by the Senate since 2006, so getting Dettelbach confirmed would be an accomplishment for the president.”
Shares in gun companies gained Tuesday, as the broad market advanced.
Sturm Ruger & Co.’s stock
rose 2% but has fallen 13% over the past 12 months, and Smith & Wesson Brands Inc.
added 1% but has lost 30% in 12 months, while the S&P 500 tacked on 2% and has shed 2% in 12 months.