The president stated that the measures were not intended to disarm anyone. In addition, he recognized that Congress may not reach a consensus, even as the nation mourns the victims of many terrible shootings.
President Biden Proposes a Ban on Assault Weapons and Further Measures to Reduce Gun Violence
In a speech on Thursday evening, Vice President Joe Biden urged Congress to prohibit assault weapons or raise the purchasing age from 18 to 21 as well as take other actions to reduce gun violence in the United States.
Biden stated, “If we cannot ban assault weapons, then the buying age should be raised from 18 to 21.”
In addition, he demanded a ban on high-capacity magazines, background checks, red flag regulations, and the abolition of the immunity that shields gun manufacturers from legal accountability if their weapons are used violently.
The remarks were made the day after the 233rd mass shooting in the United States this year, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including the shooter, at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This was one week after 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, and 17 others were injured. And approximately two weeks after 10 people were killed and three others were injured in a racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, three more people were hurt.
“There are too many other schools and daytime locations that have become killing grounds and battlefields in the United States,” Biden warned Thursday evening. “The problem we face involves awareness and common sense… I wish to be crystal clear.
This is not about removing anyone’s firearms. It has nothing to do with stigmatizing gun owners.” According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms are the biggest cause of death for children.
Biden stated, “In the previous two decades, more school-aged children have been killed by firearms than on-duty police officers and active-duty military personnel combined.”
He discussed how the AR-15 gun affected the Texas school massacre victims. “The damage in Uvalde was so severe that parents had to use DNA swabs to identify the corpses of their 9- and 10-year-old children,” he said.
Reactions from supporters of gun control were divided. Others, including Guns Down America, Manny Oliver, the father of a kid who died in the Parkland tragedy, and former Parkland student Cameron Kasky blasted the president for not taking more forceful measures to influence Congress or modify laws.
“Ok… Instead of an executive order, we received an executive prayer “Oliver sent out a tweet. During recess, senators continue to negotiate a deal on gun control.
As a senator, Biden authored the prohibition on assault weapons, which was in effect from 1994 until 2004. In the current political context, however, the president has few viable options for pursuing gun control without congressional action.
Although there are early indications of an agreement on proposed legislation that would offer state incentives to implement red-flag laws, enhance school-safety measures, and modify background checks, the likelihood of bipartisan action on firearms often diminishes in the weeks following mass shootings.
“Now is the moment for the Senate to act,” Biden stated, adding that 10 Republican senators must support any initiative.
“I find it inexcusable that a majority of Senate Republicans do not want any of these proposals to even be debated or put to a vote. We cannot again fail the American people.”
On the Senate side, a solution may be further away, but a bipartisan group of senators led by John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, have spent the past week seeking to reach an agreement on prospective gun violence legislation.
On the table are incentives for states to approve red flag laws, revisions to school safety systems, and modifications to background checks.
However, it is simpler to say than to accomplish. Historically, Republicans have united in opposition to any legislation that could restrict gun rights.
Separately, in the Democratic-controlled House, the Judiciary Committee held a contentious markup Thursday to advance a package of bills that would, among other things, increase the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high-capacity magazines, and increase background check requirements — nearly all of the provisions Biden advocated for in his speech.
The whole House could vote on the proposal as early as next week. The chances of this bill advancing in the Senate are practically nil.
Without legislative action, executive action is constrained. Biden has signed a series of executive orders addressing ghost firearms and braces on AR-15 pistols, but such regulations can be reversed by a subsequent administration.
Biden Cabinet Members Urge for “Gun Regulations Based on Common Sense”
In recent days, members of Biden’s cabinet have endorsed congressional action to impose “common-sense gun legislation.”
“We hold the people of Tulsa in our hearts, but we reaffirm our commitment to passing common-sense gun safety laws,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at the beginning of her remarks at an event highlighting the cancellation of federal student loans for students enrolled in the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain.
“No more excuses. Thoughts and prayers are essential, but Congress must act.” Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack began a speech at Georgetown University by echoing this sentiment.
“Added to this laundry list of obstacles are the recent sad incidents in New York and Texas, in which innocent people shopping in a grocery store and children in school were killed down because we as a nation have not yet mustered the fortitude to implement common-sense gun restrictions,” Vilsack stated.