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3 Jun, 2022 10:08

Biden challenges Congress on guns

Lawmakers obstructing “common sense reforms” should be wiped out at the ballot box, the US president said
Biden challenges Congress on guns

The US government can no longer “do nothing” about gun violence in the country, President Joe Biden said in a speech on Thursday, citing the latest mass shootings. He proposed a number of gun control reforms and said voters will not forgive members of Congress who try to derail them.

The president cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which said guns are now the biggest killer of children in America, worse than car accidents and cancer. He mentioned several recent high-profile mass shootings, including the racial attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, the gun rampage at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, and the attack at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Rampant gun violence is turning the schools and streets into “killing fields,” Biden said. Implementing some controls at this point is a matter of “conscience and common sense,” he added.

This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights. It’s about protecting children. It’s about protecting families. It’s about protecting whole communities.

Biden wants to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines along the lines of the 1994 law that he sponsored, and which expired 10 years after passage. If assault weapons cannot be banned, he said, then the age limit to purchase them should be raised from 18 to 21.

As he argued for a ban, he described the damage done by these types of weapons during the Uvalde shooting, saying it was so massive that “parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children.”

The president wants to strengthen laws regarding the safe storage of firearms and personal liability for not locking guns up. He also wants to strip the gun industry of its immunity from liability for damage caused by its products.

Biden also called for a law on universal background checks that would close the ‘gun show loophole’ allowing background checks to be circumvented, and a federal red-flag law which would allow parents, teachers, and school chancellors to ask courts to prohibit gun purchases by children with violent or suicidal tendencies.

The president reiterated the need to address the mental health crisis in the US, saying it fuels the problem of gun violence, and is in turn fueled by it.

“This time, we have to take the time to do something. And this time, it’s time for the Senate to do something,” he said, referring to the need to overcome the filibuster in the evenly-split Senate to pass legislation.

“The fact that the 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,” he said.

Not passing any reforms would be a failure, Biden argued, while claiming that most Americans want tighter controls.

“If Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either. I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote,” he said.

Recent opinion polls show that the poor state of the US economy and surging inflation are the biggest concerns for the American people. Many blame the Biden administration, saying it has not done enough to address these issues.

Most political experts expect the Democrats to suffer serious losses in the midterm election in November, costing the ruling party the majority in the House and Senate.