NCR Ed. note: In the weeks preceding the inauguration of the country’s second Catholic president, National Catholic Reporter asked Catholic politicians, activists and scholars to offer advice to President-elect Joe Biden in a series that takes its title from Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti: “Building a Common Future.”
by Johnny Zokovitch
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are taking office after four years of deadly inaction on gun violence. The gun violence crisis in America already takes the lives of more than 100 people every day, wounding over 200 more. This crisis has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, firearms have been purchased at a record pace, exacerbating dangerous loopholes in our background check system, and preliminary research suggests the surge in firearm purchases is associated with higher rates of gun violence. Last year saw a rise in city gun violence, gun suicide, unintentional shootings, and domestic gun violence. An estimated more than 43,000 Americans were killed by guns, the most in recent history.
Biden has been a consistent champion of gun violence prevention and he is aware of the challenges facing our country on the issue of gun safety. As president, he has the opportunity to save lives and make transformational change through executive action and throughout the new administration. Once sworn in, Biden can ensure that gun violence is tackled from every angle by activating the entire federal government to save lives. A crucial first step would be creating an interagency task force to coordinate the work across the administration.
There are numerous policies, programs and efforts that the new administration can take to save lives, but I want to focus on how it can shore up the foundation of our gun violence prevention strategy: background checks…