President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to pass legislation to curb gun violence in the country in a rare primetime address from the White House Thursday, a week after 19 children and two adults were shot dead by a gunman at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“It’s time to act,” Biden said from the White House. “For the children we have lost. For the children we can save. For the nation we love. Let’s meet the moment. It’s time to act.”
Biden proposed a number of laws, including a ban on assault weapons, which was allowed to lapse under a Republican administration in 2004. Other proposals included a limit on high capacity magazines, secure storage laws, “red flag” laws, universal background checks and the removal of protection laws for gun manufacturers.
“This time, we have to take the time to do something,” Biden said, calling out the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to pass legislation.”My God, the fact that a majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote I find unconscionable. We can’t fail the American people again.”
“I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up, and if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either,” he added. “I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.”
Earlier Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the Oklahoma shooting, saying, “All of us hold the people of Tulsa in our hearts, but we also reaffirm our commitment to passing commonsense gun safety laws.”
“No more excuses. Thoughts and prayers are important, but not enough,” Harris said. “We need Congress to act.”
Biden called for the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to be reinstated — nearly 20 years after it expired — but said if that cannot be done, then the minimum purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons should be raised from 18 to 21 years old. He also called for a strengthening of background checks, for safe-storage and red-flag laws to be enacted, and for the immunity that shields gun manufacturers from liability to be repealed.
“After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done,” the president said. “This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something.”
Biden was adamant that “this isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights,” rebutting some who have claimed gun control measures will infringe upon Second Amendment rights, and stressed there have long been restrictions on the weapons Americans can own.
“It’s about protecting children,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s about protecting families. It’s about protecting whole communities. It’s about protecting our freedom to go to school, to a grocery store, to a church without being shot and killed.”
“According to new data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America,” Biden continued. “The number one killer. More than car accidents, more than cancer. Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.”
“Think about that,” he said, adding, “How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough, enough?”