Frustrated Dems weigh limited options after Buffalo shooting

Democrats are scrambling for answers in the wake of the Buffalo, NY mass shooting, the latest in a string of racist mass murders that have stunned the nation, communities terrified minorities – and frustrated reform-minded lawmakers who were looking for a possible response.

The deadly tragedy in Buffalo, where a lone gunman shot 13 people in a grocery store, 11 of them Black, killing 10 people, follows similar stubborn attacks in Texas and Pittsburgh, where racist gunmen singled out specific minorities that they saw as a threat to white culture and power.

And it has put Democrats in a familiar position: Full of ideas against racist violence but lacking the political will for most of them to get through.

While Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives this week rushed to successfully pass legislation that would give the federal government new tools to fight domestic terrorism, the bill appears to lack support. needed by Republicans to get it through the Senate.

Similarly, House Democrats passed legislation last year expanding mandatory background checks before gun sales, but the idea hit a brick wall in the upper chamber by a 50-50 margin. , where Republicans strongly oppose any new restrictions on firearms.

And in a midterm election year, when Democrats are fighting to protect threatened incumbents in tough battleground areas, there won’t be many opinions to consider for measures. stricter arms control, such as a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles, for fear it would haunt the vulnerable. lawmakers at the polls in November.

Indeed, unlike the most prominent mass shootings of past years, when Democrats rushed to push ahead with a flurry of gun reform proposals, the Buffalo massacre prompted leaders to The party has no plans to introduce more gun legislation – a strategy that some libertarian lawmakers say is a mistake.

“One issue in the House that we hope to revisit is [Rep. David] By Cicilline [D-R.I.] Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said.

“I wish it would be.”

The situation highlights the limits of the Democrats’ policy power, despite their control of the White House and both houses of Congress. And in the absence of a legislative path, Democrats are looking for other avenues to tackle gun violence, rising white nationalism and the sometimes deadly confluence of both. two.

The suspect in the Buffalo shooting appears to be the latest example, having posted an inquiry board online shortly before the incident promoting the white “alternative theory,” the unfounded view that elites wing wanted to increase the number of immigrants and other minorities in the United States to dilute the influence of white voters.

Some Democrats say raising public awareness of that threat should be a top priority for the party in the wake of the tragedy.

“First, we must speak up and talk about the toxic combination of gun violence, white supremacy, and domestic terrorism,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Former leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, said. “Democrats must educate the public about what is going on in this country. Because if we don’t, people don’t really see the connection. As for the Buffalo today, who knows tomorrow.”

President Biden pushed through the public messaging effort on Thursday, when he visited the site of the Buffalo shooting – a Tops grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood – and delivered a speech. denounced the “poison” of white supremacy.

“We need to say as clearly and as forcefully as possible that white supremacy has no place in America,” Biden said. “Not available.”

But some Democrats are hoping he will go further, calling on the administration to take unilateral steps to combat gun violence in the event that Congress fails to act.

Swalwell said a good place to start would be a ban imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on devices called auto sears, which convert semi-automatic firearms into automatic weapons.

“I think by executive order they can fix that,” he said.

Joining the Democratic Party, GOP leaders condemned the Buffalo massacre – and white supremacy – with no certainty. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) described the suspect as “the worst of humanity.”

But Republicans have refused to disprove the alternative theory. In fact, some GOP lawmakers have promoted similar ideas, warning that Democrats hope to consolidate political power by flooding the country with like-minded minorities — a strategy to simultaneously disenfranchise whites in America.

“For many Americans, what seems to be happening, or what they believe right now is happening – what appears to them is – we are replacing Chinese Americans, Americans indigenous roots, to permanently transform the landscape of this very country,” Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said during a committee hearing last year.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), the third-ranked Republican, issued a similar warning, posting ads on Facebook last year accusing Democrats of conspiring to “designate an elect. FOREVER” approved a proposal to grant “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

Those comments – combined with GOP leaders’ refusal to condemn the replacement theory by name – angered Capitol Hill Democrats, who say Republicans want all The political advantage that comes with stoking white grievances without taking any responsibility when someone escalates it. violence.

“Republicans should denounce the alternative theory. That’s the first thing that needs to be done,” said Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) “Republicans need to acknowledge that this is a false and vile racist theory and they need to tell their supporters that.”

Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, noted that the panel held a hearing last year on the threat posed by violent white nationalism. One tool that Congress now has to tackle this problem, he said, is to fund law enforcement agencies that have the responsibility to address it appropriately.

“The director of the FBI has said that white terrorist nationalism is the greatest domestic terrorist threat we face,” he said. “And if the different agencies need more resources, then I think they should ask us, and we are happy to consider.”

Representative Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), who heads the House Oversight and Reform Committee, is also planning to call attention to the issue, scheduling a June 8 hearing on the matter. gun violence.

Others have not lost hope on the legislative route, and an assault weapons ban is not the only proposal that has received renewed attention in the wake of the Buffalo shooting.

Cicilline this week is busy promoting another bill he’s sponsoring, along with GOP Representative Fred Upton (Mich.), designed to defuse active shootings by creating a new post. within the Department of Justice to coordinate threat information to local governments in real time.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is also making some reform proposals. Citing the Buffalo suspect’s reported incident with white supremacist chat rooms, Wasserman Schultz is lobbying Congress to increase scrutiny of internet content, a controversial topic that Regulated by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

“If you look at the shooter’s manifesto…. he was instilled with hatred through his time using the Internet,” she said. “So while balancing freedom of expression, we have to really deal with the fact that social media is no longer the bulletin board concept it was in. … We had to put in place a virtual version of banning you from shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. “

With the midterms fast approaching, the prospects are slim that such controversial legislation will find bipartisan support to get to Biden’s desk. Still, some Democratic leaders are hoping to put forward at least some of those proposals, if only to draw a bipartisan distinction when it comes to combating gun violence.

“What we’re going to highlight is inaction on the other side of the room, if we can’t get something done,” said Representative Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus know. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. The bet is too high. ”

https://www.wfla.com/news/politics/frustrated-dems-weigh-limited-options-after-buffalo-shooting/ Frustrated Dems weigh limited options after Buffalo shooting

Alley Einstein

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