Missed Opportunity: As Gun Violence Surges, Biden State of the Union Speech Was More of the Same on Gun Violence

March 1, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Guns Down America Executive Director Igor Volsky released the following statement in response to President Biden’s State of the Union speech, where he still has not named a new a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and where he declined to create a national office of gun violence prevention.

“Despite every indication that the American people want to see the Biden administration do more to address our nation’s gun violence crisis, and with nearly 50,000 Americans dead from gun violence under his watch, the President missed a critical opportunity to leverage the full resources of the federal government to announce a coordinated, unified, national response to the public health crisis of gun violence.

“Survivors of gun violence and those impacted by the crisis have consistently urged the President to outline an immediate plan of action to combat all forms of gun violence, appoint a senior-level official to oversee and coordinate a proactive government response, and nominate a new permanent director to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to oversee the firearms industry. While the President rightly called on Congress to pass life-saving legislation, as he has done at least 13 times during his presidency, he failed to outline how he would work with Congress to see this through. As a result, the President fell far short of the promises he made to survivors and the American people on the campaign trail. President Biden's poll numbers have dropped in recent months. Refusing to take bold and urgent action risks further disapproval from young voters, communities of color, and all Americans who wish to live in communities free from gun violence.

“While nobody doubts the President’s and his staff’s commitment to saving lives, it’s far less clear that this administration is willing to spend actual political capital on this issue. As a result, survivors and impacted Americans will continue to boldly pressure this administration to set a new standard for how leaders can aggressively tackle the gun violence crisis.”

CNN reported recently that more than two-thirds of the country's most populous cities recorded more homicides in 2021 than the previous year, with at least 10 setting all-time homicide records — with the majority committed with a firearm.