Biden Under Scrutiny on Police Reform, Gun Violence in State of Union

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Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

When President Joe Biden took his oath of office 100 days ago, he assured the American public that he would take responsibility and tackle the “unprecedented challenges” facing our country, noting that our nation has been reeling from political and racial divisions, ABC News details. 

Ahead of his first major address tonight in front of a joint session of Congress, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that the core of his speech will detail specifics to ways that he’s helped Americans — while also laying out his priorities for the future. 

One of those priorities Psaki noted that Biden will discuss in his speech will be police reform, particularly the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Market Watch and a CBS affiliate reports. 

Biden told reporters last month, when pressed about fulfilling promises made for the first 100 days and his style of governing, that “It’s a matter of timing.” 

Biden continued, as quoted by ABC News, “As you’ve all observed, successful presidents — better than me — have been successful, in large part, because they know how to time what they’re doing — order it, decide and prioritize what needs to be done.”

Tackling Police Reform

A highlight of Biden’s address tonight will certainly be his calls for police reforms, as his speech will come just over a week since former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts of murder and manslaughter as a result of the death of George Floyd. 

When the verdict was announced, Biden publicly called on Congress to take note of the weight of the situation, and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill would ban chokeholds and additional no-knock warrants, as well as limit qualified immunity as a defense in certain cases, the Congress website details. 

The bill has passed in the House, but many are skeptical about how far it will go in the Senate. 

See Also: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Gets Renewed Support, Faces Old Hurdles

Psaki has stated that during tonight’s address, Biden will continue to press Congress to pass the Act, particularly after he made a promise to George Floyd’s family that he’ll use his “bully pulpit” to push the bill forward, according to Market Watch. 

Record on Gun Violence

Ahead of tonight’s address, Biden is said to also discuss his impact on the gun violence epidemic in America today. While many of his six gun-related executive actions weren’t explicitly covered on his Day One pledge, Biden will likely talk about his accomplishments, ABC News details. 

Biden’s executive actions have mainly focused on a crackdown of “ghost guns,” — homemade firearms that don’t have serial numbers used to trace them. Moreover, ghost guns are often purchased without a background check, making them even more difficult to track, the Associated Press explains.

See Also: Biden Targets ‘Ghost Guns’ in New Measures to Curb Firearm Violence

Through other executive actions, Biden has also tightened restrictions on pistol stabilizing braces that allow the firearms to be used more accurately. He has called these measures “common sense” steps in addressing the staggering amount of gun violence we’ve already seen this year, reports CNN. 

Biden’s speech is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night.

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