May 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden urges GOP to act on assault weapons: Thoughts, prayers "are not enough"

Joe Biden stands at a podium, speaking to a crowd, while a line of people clap behind him.

President Biden at a national legislative conference in April. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden is again asking Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines following a mass shooting in Allen, Texas, on Saturday.

Driving the news: The shooting, where eight people were killed and seven injured, is the latest in a series of mass shootings in the United States.

  • Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident where at least four people are killed or injured.

What he's saying: "Yesterday, an assailant in tactical gear armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon gunned down innocent people in a shopping mall, and not for the first time. Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar," Biden said in a statement.

  • "More than 14,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives, credible estimates show. The leading cause of death for American kids is gun violence."
  • "Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables. Republican Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough," he continued.
  • Biden asked that Congress work quickly to send him a bill that would require safe storage for guns and enhance universal background checks for those seeking to buy guns.
  • "I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe," he said.

Context: Congress has been deadlocked in trying to pass an assault weapons ban for over a decade.

  • The Democratic-controlled House passed a measure in 2022, but it died in the Senate.
  • However, at least 10 states have passed an assault weapons ban. Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed the state's ban into law on April 26.
  • The United States' assault weapons ban expired in 2004. It was initially enacted in 1994 when Biden was a U.S. senator.

Go deeper: Texas governor and other political leaders react to Allen shooting

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