Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden called on Congress to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in an evening speech at the White House on Thursday, laying out specific actions he wants to see done to curb gun violence in America.
Speaking from the East Room with 56 burning candles behind him, Biden pleaded with Congress to act in what the White House called “a major speech” on gun control legislation. He slammed Republican congressional opposition to the measures as “unconscionable”, saying they won’t even debate the bill.
“I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way. But my God — the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find it unconscionable,” Biden said.
The President has been criticized by Democrats for not being specific on what actions he wants Congress to take to curb gun violence but in the 17-minute Thursday, he laid everything out clearly as possible, calling for a ban on AR-15 assault weapons or at the minimum, raising the age to purchase one from 18 to 21 years old.
“Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30 round magazines, that lets mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes,” Biden said.
Biden called on Congress to strengthen background checks, including requiring them at gun shows and online sales, and enact safe storage and red flag laws.
He also called for actions to address mental health, which includes more school counselors and other mental health services for students and teachers.
However, the President also seems to recognize the reality politically that passing an assault weapons ban is slim to none with Republicans on Capitol Hill saying that it is a nonstarter, despite polling after the Uvalde school shooting showing 67% of Americans strongly or somewhat support a ban on assault weapons.
“I’ll never give up. If Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of American people won’t give up either,” Biden said. “I believe the majority of you will act to turn outrage to make sure this issue is central to your vote. Enough, enough, enough.”
The President’s remarks come following a mass shooting in a Tulsa hospital that left four people dead, including the gunman, along with several others injured, and a week after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas left 19 elementary school students and two adults dead.
Biden has called on Congress repeatedly to pass stricter gun control laws following a string of gun violence over the past few weeks. A bipartisan group of senators has been in discussions about possible legislation and the House will vote on a series of measures next week, and there are plans to hold a hearing an assault weapons ban, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to members.
“For so many of you at home, I want to be very clear, this is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s not about vilifying gun owners,” Biden said. “In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave.”
Biden said there is little left for him to do through the executive branch, and that any reforms must come from Congress.
“We can’t fail the American people again,” he said.