Biden touts new gun law, but many say he's not doing enough President Biden is under pressure from people in his own party who say he's not meeting the moment, saying he hasn't been forceful enough on gun legislation and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

President Biden touts gun safety legislation, but critics say he's not doing enough

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Biden has been hitting the reset button a lot lately. Today, he held a second ceremony celebrating the new bipartisan gun control bill. As NPR's Scott Detrow reports from the White House, the event gave Biden a chance to tout an accomplishment that got overshadowed, but also a chance to change his tone on a key issue.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: So the White House has music playing, and it's all the signs of a big bill signing, with activists, with lawmakers, with allies, with all the people who worked to get this bill together. Of course, the strange thing here is that this bill was already signed into law.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Good morning, everyone.

DETROW: When Biden signed this bill, it was quickly overtaken by other events. It was a Saturday morning, about 24 hours after the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade and just before Biden flew to Europe for a major NATO summit.

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BIDEN: I've been at this work for a long, long time. And I know how hard it is, and I know what it takes to get it done.

DETROW: Today, Biden gave it another go.

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BIDEN: Will we match thoughts and prayers with action? I say yes, and that's what we're doing here today.

DETROW: But even as Biden praised the new law, the first bipartisan gun law in a generation, he said it wasn't enough. Biden called for more, including a new federal assault weapons ban.

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BIDEN: That's what we owe those families in Buffalo, where a grocery store became a killing field. It's what we owe those families in Uvalde, where an elementary school became a killing field. That's what we owe those families in Highland Park, where, on July Fourth, a parade became a killing field.

DETROW: The more forceful message was, in part, a response to criticism Biden took after the July 4 mass shootings in Highland Park, Ill. Biden only made a glancing mention of it that day and said, quote, "things will get better still because of the new law and other efforts." Democrats wanted more passion, more anger from Biden. Democratic strategist Joel Payne says it's tough since the president ran on restoring normalcy and governing only to preside over crisis after crisis.

JOEL PAYNE: And you have a president who - his sales pitch to the country was, I'm going to get out the way, at a moment where the people who are part of his coalition want him to be front and center.

DETROW: On Roe v. Wade, Democrats were also frustrated with Biden's first response - brief formal remarks and vague executive promises.

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BIDEN: It's not hyperbole to suggest a very solemn moment.

DETROW: Over the next two weeks, Biden called for a change to filibuster rules and issued more specific orders. Payne says it was a mistake to draw the response out.

PAYNE: That would have been received so much differently. But it feels like you're flat-footed because it's being delivered in a staggered fashion over the course of 10 to 14 days.

DETROW: On Friday, Biden hit reset, delivering much more forceful remarks. Today, the same on guns. And in a moment where polls show Democratic frustration with Biden, it was clear the event was an attempt to boost his image, too. Here's Vice President Harris.

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VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: We would not be here were it not for the vision, the courage, the unwavering determination of one particular individual - Joe Biden.

DETROW: And the White House made sure to pack the audience with allies from all corners of the party, including Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who many Biden critics have held up as an example of a Democrat who's better meeting the tone of the current political moment. Still, the event revealed the tensions Biden faces won't go away anytime soon. As he hailed the new gun law, an invited guest stood up and heckled him - a parent of a student killed in Parkland. He told the president the new law doesn't do enough to save more lives. Scott Detrow, NPR News, the White House.

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