President Biden on Thursday emotionally called for new ambitious gun laws, including a ban on military-type rifles, while lawmakers fiercely debated how to prevent bloodshed in America.
In an address to the nation, the president called Congress that “it’s time to act” and has repeatedly stated “enough” about school killings and other mass shootings that have become too common in the United States
When Congress will not completely ban assault weapons, Mr Biden said the least that lawmakers can do is raise the age of purchase of semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
Mr Biden also called on lawmakers to expand data verification when acquiring weapons, to change liability laws to allow gun manufacturers to be prosecuted for firing, and gun owners to be held accountable for not keeping firearms locked up.
“It’s not about taking away someone’s rights,” Mr Biden insisted. “It’s about protecting children, about protecting families … It’s about protecting our freedom to go to school, to the grocery store, to church, without being killed.”
He said the vast majority of Americans support tougher gun laws and that he hopes voters will hold lawmakers accountable.
“I believe that most of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote,” he said.
Mr. Biden made the request when the dead were counted.
The speech came the day after authorities said a 45-year-old man, upset by his surgeon, returned to a Tulsa hospital in Oklahoma and shot dead a doctor and three others. Less than a week later, an 18-year-old man opened fire at an elementary school in Uwald, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.
“This time we really need to do something,” Mr Biden said. “The question we are facing is conscience and common sense.”
On Capitol Hill, however, seemingly insurmountable obstacles to passing new gun laws have come to the fore.
The debate between Democrats and Republicans escalated into an insult and accusation trade when Democrats convened an emergency hearing in the Judiciary Committee to promote their package of six gun control bills.
Democrats, starting with Mr. Biden, without hesitation rejected Republicans’ proposals to increase security in schools, while the Republican Party mocked any move to further restrict the storage of firearms.
MP Mander Jones, a New York Democrat, expressed his party’s disappointment and said it was a common threat to repeal the rules for the Senate and Supreme Court to achieve gun control goals.
“If the filibuster interferes with us, we cancel it. If the Supreme Court objects, we will expand it, ”he said. “We will not calm down until we withdraw weapons in our communities.”
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans were outraged that Democrats equated support for the Second Amendment with tolerance for mass killings.
“You think we don’t have hearts,” said Louis Homer, a Republican from Texas. “We care about people. We care about their lives and lives that have been so trivialized. We really care… How dare you? You arrogant people who attribute the murder to those of us who want to do something to stop it. ”
Democrats in the House of Representatives called the package of weapons legislation the Law on the Protection of Our Children. This would raise the federal age of rifle purchase from 18 to 21; limit the capacity of the ammunition store, although existing stores “great-grandfather”; and demand that existing large stocks be registered and new ones banned for civilian use.
It will also change the definition of “ghost guns” to include mandatory inspections of all sales and create new requirements for storing firearms at home – especially if minors are present.
The package is expected to take place in the House of Representatives, which is run by Democrats, but will die in the Senate, which is divided between Democrats and Republicans by 50 to 50.
Democrats in the House of Representatives are not worried about this reality. They say the legislation will put public pressure on Republicans in the Senate to support some changes to national gun laws.
However, Democratic aides in the Senate told The Washington Times that the fireworks in the House of Representatives were likely to sabotage any hope of a bipartisan compromise in the upper house.
The six sets of arms controls will not be the last word on the matter from the House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has promised to highlight an even more controversial ban on semi-automatic military-type rifles, which proponents of gun control call “assault weapons.”
“Saving our children can and should be a unifying mission for our nation,” said Mrs. Pelosi, a Democrat from California. “Everyone who is Congress who would stand in the way of saving lives: your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children ”.
At the court hearing, a representative of Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, said that the Democrats’ weapons bills are nothing more than guerrilla reports.
“This is not a real attempt, in my opinion, to find solutions,” he said. “That’s what we are [debating today] designed to appeal to democratic voters.
In the Senate, a bipartisan group of nine senators continued talks to revise arms and public safety laws that could be passed.
They are looking for a deal to expand gun verification and encourage states to pass “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement to seize firearms from people whom the court has found dangerous.
The deal will require the support of at least 10 senators from the Republican Party to withstand the heat. And any arms bill will face great chances, given pressure from human rights groups and high rates of passing gun laws in election year.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said any laws responding to the shooting at a school in Texas should address the problems uncovered as a result of the massacre.
“I think there are two broad categories that highlight the problem – mental illness and school safety,” said Mr. McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.