President Joe Biden renewed his call for an assault weapons ban as he spoke Tuesday in the aftermath of the Boulder, Colorado mass shooting, in which 10 were killed.
‘We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,’ he said, encouraging lawmakers to act. ‘This should not be a partisan issue. It’s an American issue. It will save lives. American lives. We have to act.’
He also told U.S. senators that they should pass two gun control bills, which plug up background check loopholes for gun buyers, that passed the Hosue of Representatives earlier this month.
‘Less than a week after the horrific murders of eight people and the assault on the AAPI community in Georgia, while the flag was still flying at half-staff for the tragedy, another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma,’ Biden said from the State Dining room Tuesday.
‘And I hate to say it, because we’re saying it so often, my heart goes out – our hearts go out for the survivors who had to flee for their lives and who hid, terrified, unsure if they would ever see their families or their friends again,’ he said.
Biden ordered flags at the White House lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in honor of the 10 victims of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, as pressure grows on the president to address gun violence.
The White House said Biden has been receiving regular updates and will continue to be briefed throughout the morning on the situation. He said during his remarks he had spoken with Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis.
He planned to speak to Boulder’s mayor on Air Force One en route to Ohio later Tuesday, the president said.
President Joe Biden made remarks Tuesday about the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado where 10 people were killed
‘There’s still a great deal we don’t know about the killer,’ Biden said. ‘And the motivation of the killer in Boulder, Colorado, and other critical aspects of this mass shooting.’
The gunman has been identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Alissa.
He opened fire on King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, where some of his victims were at the store to get their COVID-19 vaccine, officials said.
The victims include police officer Eric Talley, a 51-year-old father-of-seven who was the first to respond.
Biden spoke of Talley’s ‘exceptional bravery.’
‘I send my deepest condolences to his family, his close, close family of seven children,’ the president continued.
‘When the moment to act came Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That’s the definition of an American hero,’ Biden said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris called the mass shooting ‘tragic’ and ‘absolutely baffling.’
‘It’s tragic. Absolutely tragic,’ Harris told reporters in her ceremonial office after she swore in William Burns as CIA director.
‘It’s absolutely baffling, it’s 10 people going about their day living their lives, not bothering anybody. A police officer who is performing his duties, and with great courage and heroism,’ she added.
The vice president didn’t answer a question on whether the administration would make gun control a priority in the wake of Monday’s shooting in Colorado and last week’s violence in Atlanta.
Vice President Kamala Harris called the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado that left 10 dead ‘tragic’ and ‘absolutely baffling’
President Joe Biden did not address gun control when he spoke in Atlanta on Friday after a mass shooting there; he is expected to comment on the Boulder, Colorado, shootings at some point on Tuesday
Gun control legislation Joe Biden mentioned following Boulder shooting
Expanded background checks
Gun control advocates have spent years trying to tighten background checks for those wishing to make gun purchases.
A House-passed bill would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer vowed Tuesday to bring it to the floor. The Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades, Schumer said.
Current law provides exemptions for private firearms sales to requirements imposed on licensed gun dealers.
The House-passed bill would close loopholes to ensure background checks are extended to private and online sales that often go undetected, including at gun shows. The legislation includes limited exceptions allowing transfers of firearms that are gifts from family, that are to prevent imminent harm or that are for use at a target range, among others.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have worked together for years to find compromise on background checks but have yet to propose anything that will pass.
President Biden on Tuesday called for the Senate to act on it. ‘I don’t need to wait another minute let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future,’ Biden said at the White House.
A Pew Research Center poll in September 2019 showed a wide majority of Americans – 88% – supported making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, which is what the House-passed bill would do. Ninety-three percent of Democrats and 82% of Republicans were in favor of the policy.
Advocates also want to change or eliminate a provision in the law that allows gun purchases to go through if three business days have passed since a background check began.
The Charleston moniker is a reference to the white supremacist who gunned down nine black worshippers in Charleston at Mother Emanuel AME Church. A bill that passed the House would expand the period to 10 days. The bill is backed by House Majority Whip James C. Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Biden called specifically for closing the ‘Charleston loophole’ in his White House remarks.
Large-capacity ammo clips
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has for years advocated for legislation to ban the sale and transfer of high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as ‘military-style assault weapons.’ She has joined with Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island to introduce identical legislation.
A ban on assault-style weapons enacted during the Clinton administration expired in 2004, 10 years after it was enacted.
‘We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,’ Biden said Tuesady. ‘I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was the law for the longest time. And it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.’
— Geoff Earle, Associated Press
The back-to-back shootings raise questions about where gun control falls on the White House priority list.
Biden made coronavirus relief his top priority and is next expected to tackle an infrastructure package.
Biden didn’t talk about gun control when he visited Atlanta last Friday after a mass shooting there left eight dead, including six Asian women.
During his brief remarks Tuesday, he did talk about what could be done legislatively.
‘I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future,’ Biden said. ‘I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.’
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 and attempts to renew it in Congress have been unsuccessful.
‘We got that done when I was a senator, it passed, it was the law for the longest time and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again,’ the president continued.
‘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,’ Biden urged. ‘These are bills that received votes of both Republicans and Democrats in the House.’
Biden heads to Ohio on Tuesday afternoon to mark the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and sell his COVID relief plan.
He returns to Columbus where, almost a year ago during the Democratic presidential primary, he talked about gun violence during a campaign stop.
In his remarks, he said he would pursue background checks on all firearms purchases, ban large-capacity magazines for guns and end civil immunity for gun manufacturers in wrongful death lawsuits.
Officials in his administration have been meeting with gun control advocates for the past two months.
Cedric Richmond, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, who has been leading the meetings, told MSNBC on Tuesday morning: ‘The regular sentiment of hearts and prayers are not enough.’
‘We need action on this in the country,’ he said. ‘This President has a track record of fighting against the NRA and beating them, and we need to make sure that we have sensible gun regulations in this country to ensure safety. And so we need action, not just words and prayers.’
Healthcare workers walk out of a King Sooper’s Grocery store after a gunman opened fire
Tactical police units respond to the scene of King Soopers. The windows of the store were left broken, likely from gunfire
Gun control issues face an uphill battle in the Senate despite the Democratic control of the chamber. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hold a hearing on gun violence on Tuesday.
The House, earlier this month, passed legislation requiring universal background checks but the legislation is not expected to pass in the Senate.
Colorado previously suffered two of the most infamous mass shootings in US history – massacres that prompted nationwide soul-searching but did not result in major changes to gun ownership laws.
In 1999, two boys shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves.
Then in 2012, a heavily armed man stormed a movie theater in Aurora, murdering 12. The gunman is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The city of Boulder imposed a ban on ‘assault-style weapons’ and large-capacity gun magazines in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018.
But a judge last week blocked that ban, local media reported, in a decision hailed by the NRA.