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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Biden Calls for Ban on Assault Weapons, Better Background Checks

In response to the massacres in Atlanta, GA and Boulder, CO, President Biden has called for a ban on Assault weapons and tougher background check requirements for purchasing guns. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.” The President called further for:

We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again.  I got that done when I was a senator.  It passed.  It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings.  We should do it again.

We can close the loopholes in our background check system, including the “Charleston loophole.”  That’s one of the best tools we have right now to prevent gun violence.  The Senate should immediately pass — let me say it again: The United States Senate — I hope some are listening — should immediately pass the two House-passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system.  These are bills that received votes of both Republicans and Democrats in the House.  This is not and should not be a partisan issue; this is an American issue.  It will save lives — American lives — and we have to act.  We should also ban assault weapons in the process.

President Biden also called for limiting “the size of magazines.” At The New York Times, Annie Karni and Catie Edmondson explain further,

Mr. Biden, who had helped pass the landmark Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act as well as the 10-year assault weapons ban while in the Senate, came back five weeks later with proposals for legislation and executive action, but the Obama administration’s push to pass a background check bill failed.

“The failure to get legislation passed was one of Obama’s greatest regrets,” said Kris Brown, the president of Brady: United Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit group.

Mr. Biden faces political gridlock on the issue despite longstanding public support for tighter gun laws, growing calls for action from many Democrats and the waning influence of the National Rifle Association.

According to a Pew Research Center poll in 2019, growing proportions of Americans in both parties supported tighter gun laws. There was broad bipartisan support as well on some specific steps, including barring people with mental illnesses from buying guns. About 71 percent of Americans — including a slight majority of Republicans — favored banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, while 69 percent, including half of Republicans, backed an assault weapons ban.

Some Democrats are hopeful something can be passed. The NRA is weaker today than it was just a few years ago. However, today’s Republicans are far less conscientious than they were a decade ago.  Most observers believe it would require significant filibuster reform for the Senate to pass even modest gun safety reforms.

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