President Joe Biden on Tuesday renewed his call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban – even as he acknowledged the limitations of his own authority to get something done without buy-in from lawmakers.
‘I have gone the full extent of my executive authority, on my own. I think it’s about time,’ Biden told reporters at the White House.
‘The Congress has to act. The majority of the American people want an assault weapons ban,’ he continued. ‘I can’t do anything except plead with Congress to act.’
President Joe Biden said he had reached the ‘full extent of my executive authority,’ and called on Congress to enact an assault weapons ban. A previous ban on assault-style weapons was in place for a decade, and expired in 2004
His pleadings come as key lawmakers are already stating their doubts about the ability to move legislation – even after a shooter at The Covenant School school six, in just the latest of a string of mass shootings at schools, houses of worship, shopping centers, and other locations.
Support for reinstating the expired ban appears to be dropping – even as the White House invokes an increase in mass shootings since it was allowed to expire in 2004.
Support was at 47 per cent compared to 51 per cent who were against it in an ABC News / Washington Post poll released last month. That was a steep drop from 2019, including a 9-point drop in support for a ban an da 10-point rise in opposition to it.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday renewed her call for Republicans in Congress to get behind a bill to ban so-called assault weapons – after senior lawmakers expressed doubt there was sufficient support to enact any major new measures after the Nashville school shooting.
‘We need gun safety laws, comprehensive gun safety laws. We need to ban assault rifles, those weapons of war do not belong on our streets,’ she told MSNBC Tuesday. ‘They do not belong in schools … This is unacceptable. You’re going to continue to hear from the president call this out,’ she said.
She spoke a day after she said at the White House that ‘enough is enough’ following the mass shooting at The Covenant School outside Nashville – the latest in a long line of school shootings. Her comments Tuesday came on a day when authorities released chilling body cam footage of the shooting that left six people dead.
Jean-Pierre spoke from the White House grounds after Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who helped broker the most extensive gun legislation in years in the last Congress, said there was little appetite to do more legislatively in the wake of still more shootings.
Biden spoke a day after the Nashville school shooting. An entry to The Covenant School has become a memorial for shooting victims
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called for ‘comprehensive gun safety laws’ and renewed a call for an assault weapons ban after the Nashville school shooting
‘I would say we’ve gone about as far as we can go unless somebody identifies some area that we didn’t address,’ Cornyn said Monday. He was asked specifically about taking additional steps on background checks for gun purchasers.
Jean-Pierre rejected that posture in a separate interview on CNN. ‘We should not be saying there’s nothing else to do. We should be trying to figure out what else there can be to do,’ she said.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who helped author the original ban and who is set to retire in 2024, released an analysis of academic studies in 2019 showing mass shootings deaths dropped when the ban was in place and jumped when it expired.
Jean-Pierre spoke about her own family and said she ‘hugged my 8-year-old just a little bit tighter’ after the news. ‘I was one of the lucky ones. Like many Americans, I was one of the lucky ones last night. You know why? My daughter came home from school. So this is what we’re living with as a country,’ she said.
She repeated a message from Monday: ‘Enough, enough, enough.’ We have had a president who has acted on this,’ she said after being pressed on whether President Biden was planning any new executive actions.
‘I know you were asking me about executive action, what else can we do? This president has taken more executive actions on gun violence safety than any president before him,’ she said.
‘We need Republicans in Congress to show some courage. This is what they owe these parents. This is what they owe these family members who are losing their loved ones.’
Any legislative action would have to get majority support in the House, and need to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans and gun-rights advocates can launch a filibuster, making reenactment of Clinton-era assault weapons ban an exceedingly heavy lift.
The shooting occurred in the congressional district of GOP Rep. Andy Ogles, who is calling for a focus on mental health rather than a push to ban semi-automatic assault rifles like the AR-15.
President Joe Biden addressed the school shooting in Nashville at the White House Monday
Children hold hands as they leave The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday after a female shooter opened fire, killing three kids and three staff members
‘I would say we’ve gone about as far as we can go unless somebody identifies some area that we didn’t address,’ said Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn
Without a clear legislative path, Jean-Pierre repeatedly takes to the airwaves to demand school safety. ‘We cannot sit around to allow this anymore. You know, kids should be able to go to school and be safe. Teachers should be able to go to school and be able to teach. Again, we do not see this anywhere else around the world except here,’ she said.
In an interview with CNN, she slammed the House Judiciary Committee for delaying a resolution that would nullify a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rule under Biden that would establish criteria for stabilizing braces that can make pistols work like rifles in a fashion used in the Las Vegas mass shooting.
‘When you hear elected officials say it’s another talking point, when the president is saying that we need to do more, that’s actually devastating to hear as well, because that’s what you’re also saying to those families who lost loved ones, to those parents who lost three 9-year-olds. They lost their kids yesterday, and that’s what we’re saying?’
‘We should not be saying there’s nothing else to do. We should be trying to figure out what else there can be to do,’ Jean-Pierre said.