Biden calls for tougher gun laws in speech
“Enough, enough,” said US President Joe Biden throughout Thursday night, as he delivered a meaningful address to the nation, imploring Congress to take action against gun violence in the wake of mass shootings. mass shootings that he says have turned schools, supermarkets and other everyday places into “killing fields.”
If lawmakers fail to act, he warned, voters should use their “indignation” to make it a central issue in the November midterm elections.
Speaking at the White House, Biden acknowledged the harsh political turmoil as he sought to pressure Congress to pass stricter gun limits after such efforts failed in the wake of the attacks. in the past.
He repeated his call to reinstate the ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and high-volume magazines – and said if Congress doesn’t accept all of his proposals, it must at least find deals. It’s like keeping guns away from people with mental health problems. or raise the age to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.
“How much more carnage we’re willing to accept,” Biden said after last week’s shooting of an 18-year-old gunman that killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and another attack on Wednesday in Tulsa. , Okla., where a gunman shot dead 4 people and himself at a medical office. “Don’t tell me increasing age won’t make a difference,” he said.
The most recent shooting came after the May 14 attack in Buffalo, NY, where an 18-year-old white man in military uniform and live-streamed with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in a predominantly Black residential area, killing 10 people and injuring three others in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism”.
“This time we have to take the time to do something,” Biden said, calling on the Senate, which needs 10 Republican votes to pass the legislation.
For all of Biden’s passion for the address, and for all of his major claims and smaller backup alternatives, any major congressional action is still a long way off. .
“I know how difficult it is, but I will never give up, and if Congress fails, I believe this time the majority of Americans will not give up either,” he added. “I believe the majority of you will act to make your outrage the focus of your vote.”
He noted that Centers for Disease Control data shows that “guns are the #1 killer of children in the United States,” before auto accidents.
“Over the past two decades, more school-age children have died from firearms than active-duty police officers and active-duty military – combined,” he said.
Aware of persistent criticism from gun rights advocates, Biden insisted his call was not about “defaming gun owners” or “taking away anyone’s gun.”
“We should look to responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave,” Biden said. “This is not about taking anyone’s rights away, it’s about protecting the children, it’s about protecting the family.”
He called on Congress to end “outrageous” protections for gun manufacturers, which severely limit their liability for the way their guns are used, comparable to industry. Tobacco has already faced numerous lawsuits over its product’s role in causing cancer and other diseases.
“Imagine if the tobacco industry hadn’t been sued, where we would be today,” Biden said.
All major broadcast networks exited regular programming to make Biden’s remarks at 7:30 p.m. EDT, before primetime programming began.
Biden has delivered keynote speeches about the coronavirus pandemic and the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. But the president used such addresses sparingly during his nearly 18 months in office, especially during the evening hours.
Earlier, on Thursday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the Oklahoma shooting, saying, “We all hold the people of Tulsa in our hearts, but we also reaffirmed our commitment to in passing conventional gun safety legislation.”
“There are no more excuses. Thoughts and prayers are important, but they are not enough,” Harris said. “We need Congress to act.”
Visiting Uvalde on Sunday, Biden mourned privately for more than three hours with grieving families. Faced with chants of “do something” as he left a church service, the president pledged: “We will.” In his speech, he talked about having a woman in a church in Uvalde deliver a grieving letter about the loss of her grandchild, urging people to come together and take action.
His Thursday night speech coincided with intensifying bipartisan talks between a core group of senators discussing modest gun policy changes. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said the group was “making rapid progress” and Biden spoke with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, one of the leaders of their party’s effort on the issue. .
Democrats hope Mr Biden’s remarks will encourage bipartisan negotiations in the Senate and put pressure on Republicans to strike a deal. Jean-Pierre said Biden was “encouraged” by the congressional negotiations but the president wanted to give lawmakers “some space” to keep talking.
Separate discussions in the Senate, split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, are not expected to produce the kinds of sweeping reforms being considered by the Democratic-led House of Representatives. Church – which has passed an expanded background check law and will next move to an assault weapons ban.
But even a House package that was debated on Thursday – and approved by a committee, 25-19 – is less in-depth but includes a provision that raises the mandatory age to buy semi-automatic firearms to 21, face very slim chances in the Senate.
Instead, bipartisan senators are likely to deliver a more incremental package aimed at increasing federal funding to support state gun safety efforts — with incentives to boost school security. and mental health resources. The package could also encourage “red flag laws” to keep guns away from potentially harmful people.
While the Senate passed a modest measure to encourage background check compliance following the 2017 mass church shootings in Texas and one in Parkland, Fla., the following year, there was no legislation. who cleared the room after the horrific massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. School 2012.
Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed.