After weeks of back-to-back mass shootings across the United States, President Joe Biden addressed the nation in an emotional evening speech on Thursday where he urged Congress to pass sensible gun reform laws.
Against a somber backdrop of lit white candles, the President recounted stories from Uvalde, TX site of the deadliest mass school shooting in the nation’s history where 19 children and two teachers were slain by an 18-year-old armed with an AR-15.
“After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done. This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something. The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense,” the President said.
He noted that while he respects the rights of gun owners, that the Second Amendment is not unlimited, adding, “There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America. For example, machine guns have been federally regulated for nearly 90 years, and this is still a free country. 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. It’s about protecting our freedoms to go to school, to a grocery store, to a church, without being shot and killed.”
The President called for a ban of assault weapons as the AR-15 has been the weapon of choice in dozens of mass shootings. However, he recognized the unlikelihood of Republicans to support that. He offered alternatives saying, “we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21.” Biden also called for strengthening background checks, passing safe storage and red flag laws, and repealing the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability, as well as to take steps to address mental health. He called them “rational, common sense measures,” that have public support, in fact, more than 67% of Americans support a potential ban on assault weapons.
Biden reminded the nation that “Over the last two decades, more school aged children have died from guns than on duty police officers and active duty military combined. Think about that. More kids than on duty cops killed by guns. More kids than soldiers killed by guns. For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept. How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say, enough. Enough.”