President Joe Biden called for a series of gun reform measures in the wake of recent mass shootings in Boulder, CO, and Atlanta, as he pressed for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and for the Senate to pass universal background-check legislation.
A gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder on Monday, and he faces 10 counts of first-degree murder. A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle was used in the shooting.
Speaking from the White House, Biden said: “While we are still waiting for more information on the shooter, his motive, the weapons he used. … I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and the Senate to act.”
Biden noted that Congress passed a ban on assault weapons when he was a senator and “it brought down these mass killings.”
“We should do it again,” he said.
Later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that executive orders also are under consideration.
“There remain a range of options under consideration, and obviously tragedies like last night and the shootings in Atlanta are just reminders of how vital it is to move forward on gun safety measures,” she said.
Last week, eight people were killed, including six women of Asian descent, when a gunman opened fire at three spas in the Atlanta area.
What is unclear is whether the environment for gun reform legislation is different now than when Biden was vice president in 2013, when he presided over a task force in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. But legislation to expand background checks stalled in the Senate.
The House already has passed legislation to close loopholes in the background check system.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” Biden said. “This is an American issue that will save lives, American lives, and we have to act.”
Former President Barack Obama also issued a statement, writing, “It is long past time for those with the power to fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so. It will take time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence. But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war. We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must.”
“A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. We shouldn’t have to choose between one type of tragedy and another.”
At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I agree, it is time for us to do something. And every time there’s a shooting we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.”