WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault weapons during an address to the nation Thursday night, saying that “rational, common-sense measures” were needed in the wake of several mass shootings.
“As I stood in (Uvalde), I thought, there are too many other schools, too many everyday places, that are becoming killing fields, battlefields,” Biden said. “Here in America.”
During his nearly 18-minute speech, Biden called for banning assault weapons, implementing of red flag laws and raising the age for purchasing weapons to 21.
“For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden said. “How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough.”
The President also spoke to gun owners, saying that his call to ban assault weapons “isn’t about taking away anyone’s guns.”
“In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave,” Biden said.
Biden said he understood the argument that people under 21 handle guns while serving in the military, adding that those people receive “training and supervision by the best-trained experts in the world.”
“Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference,” Biden said during his address.
The President said when he visited Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, he said the message given to him by residents was clear.
“At both places, we spent hours with hundreds of family members, who were broken, whose lives will never be the same,” Biden said. “They had one message for all of us: Do something. Just do something. For God’s sake, do something.”
As Biden was speaking, the House Judiciary Committee voted 25-19 along party lines to approve a package of gun control legislation, CNN reported.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California and a member of the Judiciary Committee, criticized Biden’s address as his “worst speech yet,” according to The New York Times. Issa added that Biden “lashed out at everyone who doesn’t share his gun control agenda.”
Biden’s speech follows a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers last week, as well as one Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman shot and killed four people and himself at a medical office.
Biden said earlier this week that the Second Amendment was never an “absolute” and that he thought “rational” Republicans in Congress would work with Democrats to pass restrictions that could limit high-powered weapons like the ones used in Uvalde.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said that whatever measures are considered, he would not support them unless they are “consistent with the Second Amendment.”
“We have a Second Amendment to the Constitution. We take it seriously. There’s the right to keep and bear arms in this country,” McConnell said this week.
“And so what I’ve done is encourage some bipartisan discussions that are going on. In fact, I just had a call with one of the members of it to see if we can find a way forward consistent with the Second Amendment that targets the problem.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said she will bring forward legislation next week to ban military-style assault weapons.
“We will be having a hearing and marking up the assault weapon ban,” Pelosi said over the weekend.
According to Roll Call, the measure includes proposals that would raise the age limit to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles to 21 years old and establish a federal ban on new high-capacity magazines.
The measure would also create a new federal firearms offense for gun trafficking and straw purchases, address safe gun storage, codify regulations on “bump stocks” and ban their further sale.
The American Firearms Association criticized the proposed measure, Roll Call reported, saying it is the “most serious assault on our Second Amendment rights we’ve ever seen,” in a fundraising email to supporters Tuesday.
Republican Jim Jordan, Ohio, told Fox News that he believes Democrats are taking advantage of the recent mass shootings to advance their political agenda.
“I’m going to do everything I can encourage my colleagues to oppose this… hodgepodge of bills that I don’t think would have made one difference in tragedies that we’ve seen recently,” Jordan said.
“I think it’s just wrong to attack the Second Amendment liberties of law-abiding citizens, and that’s what these bills do,” Jordan said. “The answer is to make sure you have school facilities secured, and you have security officers who are trained and well-equipped to protect kids and teachers and the educational environment – not these various bills that they’ve piled into one hodgepodge package.”
The House is also expected to take up a bill by Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Georgia, whose son was shot and killed in 2012.
The bill would let family members and law enforcement obtain an extreme-risk protection order, which temporarily removes access to firearms by those who are believed to be a danger to themselves or to others. The legislation, commonly called red flag laws, have been passed by 19 states.
Biden is expected to speak at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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