On Wednesday, Joe Biden made his first appearance on Jimmy Kimmel since becoming president – a night when the NBA finals were being televised, ensuring that his spot would grab a larger audience than usual. Kimmel used this opportunity to ask President Biden about gun safety legislation, and how much the president is able to pass by executive order, adding that the former guy gave them out like Halloween candy.
This allowed President Biden to not just talk about what he has done with executive orders and gun ownership that the powers of the presidency allow – such as extending waiting periods – but to also talk about the former guy’s regular abuse of the Constitution. While Trump did issue a number of executive orders, not many of them were successful and ended up being overturned in court.
It’s a reminder that while the president has considerable power when it comes to gun control, there will be very little permanent change unless Congress manages to pass legislation on it. (The Parkland massacre happened shortly after Trump overturned legislation that prevented people with mental illness from purchasing assault weapons.) Kimmel countered by asking whether it’s possible to get any progress done by working with people who refuse to play by the rules and routinely abuse the Constitution. President Biden gave him one concise answer: “We gotta send them to jail.”
This will inevitably set off a lot of yelling and screaming on the right about the president locking up his political rivals – but if it does, it’ll be a sign of what they’ve been afraid of all along. It should also hopefully help to change the conversation about the former guy getting away with it all. It is also, more than ever, a reminder that we need to turn out in droves in order to protect and expand our majorities in Congress.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making