Jun 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls on Congress to reinstate federal assault weapons ban

President Biden. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden laid out his gun control agenda on Thursday night, saying America should be unified around the provisions he suggested.

The big picture: Biden called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which was passed in 1994 and expired under President George W. Bush in 2004. He also called for expansions on background checks, raising the age limits to purchase semi-automatic rifles and red-flag laws.

  • Biden added there should be a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Other recommendations from Biden included:

  • Raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
  • Strengthen background checks.
  • Enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws.
  • Repeal immunity for gun manufacturers.

Multiple mass shootings in recent weeks prompted Biden to call for Congress to act on gun control.

  • In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a gunman killed at least four people in a shooting at a medical building Wednesday. This was the 233rd mass shooting in the U.S. for 2022, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive data.
  • A shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 kids and two teachers and injured at least 17 people last week.
  • A gunman killed 10 people in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. The alleged shooter was later charged with and pled not guilty to 25 counts, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate.

Between the lines: Biden acknowledged the effort may stall in the Senate, where Republicans are usually unified against gun control — and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema said they won't support ending the filibuster to take a majority vote.

  • Biden said Americans should make it central to their midterm votes if Congress fails to act.

Flashback: After the Uvalde shooting, Biden said he thought "rational Republicans" could act on some gun control.

  • "I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it,” Biden said. "At least that’s my hope."
  • "I know I have responsibility. I can do the things I've done," he said but noted the Constitution gives only Congress the power to change the laws. "I can't outlaw a weapon. I can't change the background checks."

Republican officials have spoken out about what can be done in the wake of these shootings.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN he met with Texas Sen. John Cornyn and asked him to speak with Democrats to find a compromise on gun control legislation.
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he is open to having a conversation on raising the minimum age limits for buying “AR-15-style weapons."
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he is open to a federal ban on AR-15-style rifles.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asked state lawmakers to find solutions to "prevent future school shootings" — but gun control was not mentioned among the areas of focus.
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