Biden calls for a ban on assault weapons during the Lame Duck convention
President Joe Biden said Thursday he was open to a last-ditch effort to ban assault weapons as the 117th Congress draws to a close and Republicans prepare to take control of the House of Representatives in January.
With Democrats in control of both houses of Congress for just a few weeks, Biden said he will “start counting votes” to see how much support there might be for such legislation.
“I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons,” he told reporters during a Thanksgiving Day visit to Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts.
In less than a week, two large mass shootings claimed the lives of at least five people at a Colorado nightclub and at least six people at a Walmart in Virginia, reigniting the national debate over how to stop these horrific killings. Authorities say the Colorado suspect had both an AR-style rifle and a handgun, and the Virginia suspect, who is now deceased, used a handgun.
Assault weapons are commonly seen in the deadliest mass shootings, including both the Uvalde school shooting and the Buffalo supermarket shooting, which drew national and international attention this year.
Biden has repeatedly said he is “determined to again ban assault weapons in the United States” after successfully helping to implement a 1994 ban on new sales of certain large-capacity semi-automatic weapons and magazines.
Although the term “assault weapon” is often criticized by gun advocates because its meaning is not well defined, it generally refers to semi-automatic rifles designed for rapid fire.
“The idea that we’re still allowing semi-automatic gun purchases is sick, it’s just sick,” Biden said Thursday. “It has no social redemption value, zero, none. Not a single, lonely justification for it.”
The 1994 assault weapons ban was phased out after a decade during the Bush administration.
Other possible solutions include warning signals, allowing a judge to step in and prevent a person from accessing guns if they are deemed to be at risk of a crisis. Some gun control advocates say these laws can be very effective, but greater public awareness is needed for them to reach their full potential.
Colorado has a red flag law in place, but why it wasn’t applied in the case of Anderson Lee Aldrich – the alleged Colorado club shooter – isn’t fully understood.
Biden noted the apparent error while speaking to reporters about Nantucket.
“The idea that we don’t enforce red flag laws … is ridiculous,” he said.