Advocacy groups are urging President Joe Biden to bypass Congress by creating a White House office of gun violence as the confirmation of his nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives remains in jeopardy, Politico reported.
Four groups send Biden a letter on Wednesday and complained the president's actions on guns "fall significantly short of the promises you yourself made while running for the presidency," Politico reported Thursday.
The activists said weapons had not been a Biden priority as 28,000 Americans have died from gun violence this year.
"Your administration is hard at work pursuing important priorities from infrastructure reform to reducing the disastrous impacts of climate change," according to the letter obtained by Politico.
"But with rising gun deaths and the heightened threat of armed political extremism, gun violence can no longer be seen as a back burner issue."
With David Chipman's nomination to lead ATF languishing in the Senate, the groups asked Biden to establish a White House office led by a Cabinet-level aide, who would not need Senate confirmation.
The position would be similar to the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.
The groups who teamed on the letter to Biden included:
- Guns Down America, created in 2016.
- March for Our Lives, formed after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.
- Newtown Action Alliance, created in the wake of the 2012 school shooting in Connecticut.
- Survivors Empowered, established after the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting.
The groups requested a meeting with White House officials and vowed to continue to push Biden to fulfill his campaign promises.
They also encouraged Biden to use his bully pulpit to urge lawmakers to pass gun laws to ban assault weapons, limit high-capacity magazines and expand background checks.
"The president promised bold action over and over again … but he's not really using all of his powers to tackle the issue of gun violence," Zeenat Yahya, deputy policy director of March For Our Lives, told Politico.
"When he wants to get things done, he does it. We've seen the infrastructure proposals, the COVID relief plan … So I think it's really up to him to get moving on these things."
COVID-19 vaccines, infrastructure, and the chaos resulting from the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan have been a focus for Biden, who during his first weeks as president said he planned to emphasize various policy issues including gun violence, an immigration overhaul, and police reform.
Politico reported that some activists said they are worried about voter turnout for next year's midterm elections because of a lack of policy accomplishments.
"We went to bat for him during the 2020 elections because he put forth the strongest gun violence prevention platform in modern history … We need the president to take action," Po Murray, who chairs the Newtown Action Alliance, told Politico.
"We want to be able to drive voter turnout on this and it's going to be really challenging if we don't have any wins."
Chipman's nomination is in danger after Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, signaled that he is not supportive of the nominee.
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