Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu

News

Biden, Dems push ban on so-called assault weapons

[ad_1]

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden speaks about the “scourge” of gun violence, his go-to answer is to zero in on so-called assault weapons.

America has heard it hundreds of times, including this week after shootings in Colorado and Virginia: The president wants to sign into law a ban on high-powered guns that have the capacity to kill many people very quickly.

“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said on Thanksgiving Day. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”

After the mass killing last Saturday at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, he said in a statement: “When will we decide we’ve had enough? … We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets.”

When Biden and other lawmakers talk about “assault weapons,” they are using an inexact term to describe a group of high-powered guns or semi-automatic long rifles, like an AR-15, that can fire 30 rounds fast without reloading. By comparison, New York Police Department officers carry a handgun that shoots about half that much.

A weapons ban is far off in a closely divided Congress. But Biden and the Democrats have become increasingly emboldened in pushing for stronger gun controls — and doing so with no clear electoral consequences.

The Democratic-led House passed legislation in July to revive a 1990s-era ban on “assault weapons,” with Biden’s vocal support. And the president pushed a ban nearly everywhere that he campaigned this year.

Still, in the midterm elections, Democrats kept control of the Senate and Republicans were only able to claim the slimmest House majority in two decades.

The tough talk follows passage in June of a landmark bipartisan bill on gun laws, and it reflects steady progress that gun control advocates have been making in recent years.

“I think the American public has been waiting for this message,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has been the Senate’s leading advocate for stronger gun control since the massacre of 20 children at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. “There has been a thirst from voters, especially swing voters, young voters, parents, to hear candidates talk about gun violence, and I think Democrats are finally sort of catching up with where the public has been.”

Just over half of voters want to see nationwide gun policy made more strict, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago. About 3 in 10 want gun policy kept as is. Only 14% prefer looser gun laws.

Once banned in the United States, the high-powered firearms are now the weapon of choice among young men responsible for many of the most devastating mass shootings. Congress allowed the restrictions first put in place in 1994 on the manufacture and sales of the weapons to expire a decade later, unable to muster the political support to counter the powerful gun lobby and reinstate the weapons ban.

When he was governor of Florida, current Republican Sen. Rick Scott signed gun control laws in the wake of mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a night club in Orlando. But he has consistently opposed weapons bans, arguing like many of his Republican colleagues that most gun owners use them lawfully.

“People are doing the right thing, why would we take away their weapons?” Scott asked as the Senate was negotiating gun legislation last summer. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

He said more mental health counseling, assessments of troubled students and law enforcement on campus make more sense.

“Let’s focus on things that actually would change something,” Scott said.

Dallas Dutka of Broomfield, Colo., prays by a makeshift memorial, Nov. 22, 2022, for the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. Dutka's cousin, Daniel Aston, was killed in the shooting. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Dallas Dutka of Broomfield, Colo., prays by a makeshift memorial, Nov. 22, 2022, for the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. Dutka’s cousin, Daniel Aston, was killed in the shooting. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

[ad_2]

Source link