Biden calls for assault weapons ban as support for stricter gun laws decreases
McClatchy November 26, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — Following back-to-back mass shootings in Colorado and Virginia, President Joe Biden spoke in favor of an assault weapons ban, a perennially proposed piece of legislation.
His comments come as nationwide support for stricter gun laws has slipped in recent months. In response to the Nov. 19 mass killing at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, the president released a statement saying, “When will we decide we’ve had enough?”
He added, “We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets.”
Four days later, a gunman shot up a Virginia Walmart filled with shoppers stocking up for the holidays, killing six, according to the Associated Press.
“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said on Thanksgiving Day, according to the Associated Press. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”
There is not agreement on what exactly an assault weapons ban would entail.
Part of that stems from “assault weapons” not being a precise term, though generally speaking, it is used to refer to “military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.”
Despite the highly contentious nature of the issue, Congress passed a bipartisan gun law earlier this year, which created stricter requirements for young people seeking to purchase guns and denied more domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.
But one proposed assault weapons ban passed by the House earlier this year before stalling in the evenly divided Senate.
The president’s renewed calls for a blanket ban come as support for beefed up gun legislation is trending down.
While still a majority at 57% of surveyed Americans, according to a Gallup poll conducted in October, that’s down from 66% in June.
Support for more gun laws reached a record-low of 43% in 2011 and an all-time-high of 67% in 2018, according to Gallup, which has been tracking Americans’ opinions on gun laws since 1990.
Democrats and Republicans are strongly divided over the issue. Currently, 86% of Democrats and 27% of Republicans say the laws regulating sales of firearms should be more rigorous, according to Gallup.
The renewed Democratic push for a weapons ban has a slim chance of success of becoming new legislation, pundits say, and those chances will only further diminish as the newly elected representatives and senators are sworn in in January, creating a divided Congress.
“Every American has the right to go to work, the movies or out for an evening without fear,” Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar tweeted. “The House has passed universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. We won’t stop until they become law.”
“Democrats are proposing gun control measures that encroach on the freedoms of law-abiding citizens and do little to reduce gun violence,” Republican Rep. Steve Scalise said in a statement in June, shortly after the House voted on its proposed ban.
The United States has experienced more than 600 mass shootings during each of the past three years, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
While the country has 4.4% of the global population, 31% of the world’s mass shootings occur on American soil, according to a recent study. Mass shooting deaths make up a small fraction of all gun-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center. In 2020, the majority of all gun-related deaths — 54% — were suicides.
©2022 McClatchy Washington Bureau.
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