WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Flags were lowered, mournful statements were issued and pleas to lawmakers renewed.
In the wake of two mass shootings in California this week, President Joe Biden followed a heartfelt and familiar storyline of anger and grief over gun violence in America. It also comes with new demands for Congress to pass legislation banning assault-style weapons.
Political experts say such a ban is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled House or the marginally Democratic-controlled Senate.
But Biden’s stubborn strategy continues. The idea is to make the ban the focus of public debate whenever there is a mass shooting and pressure lawmakers to oppose it. The White House is looking to build on already strong public support for tougher gun safety laws across the board, and ultimately pressure Republicans in Congress to change their minds.
Biden has personally added a ban on assault weapons to his scheduled public remarks, according to White House officials.
After 18 people died in two days in California this week, the president urged lawmakers to get the bill to his desk ASAP.
“It’s really badly needed,” he told Democratic leaders at a conference on Tuesday.
The Republican opposition has not changed.
Senator John Cornyn, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a prominent figure in past gun control debates, said the California shootings haven’t changed the situation on the Capitol. “There is no further legislative action. We pretty much exhausted our possibilities a few months ago,” he told Reuters.
The White House says Biden won’t give up.
Another White House official said, “The president’s strategy is to make the assault weapons ban a winning argument so he can build a security council that supports guns, and we’re moving in that direction. there is,” he said.
Biden’s strategy could have long-term political gains heading into the 2024 presidential election.
Dante Scala, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, said: “Part of Biden’s re-election plan next year seeks to contrast the moderate, moderate, pragmatic figure with the extreme figure. I don’t think so.
Easy math, not enough support
Ten years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed 20 first-graders and six adults, the U.S. federal government has released weapons such as the high-capacity AR-15 used in the attack and an estimated 400 million. We put very few limits on the Ding gun. in the country. Investigators said he had more than 150 bullets fired at the school in just five minutes.
The recent shooting in California, where 18 people died, shows that even the strictest state laws are ineffective, thanks to a patchwork of federal regulations.
Biden has opposed assault weapons for years and has repeatedly denounced them during his presidency. He helped get his 10-year ban passed in 1994.
As Vice President, he spearheaded a series of gun control proposals for Barack Obama after Sandy Hook, including a recommendation to ban new offensive weapons. None passed Congress, which was opposed by the Republicans and the then-powerful National Rifle Association lobby.
But last year, Mr. Biden signed into law the first major federal gun control law in 30 years. He will crack down on the entire sale of guns to domestic violence perpetrators and extend some of the background checks to minors.
These and even tougher measures have strong public support.
In a June Quinnipiac poll, nearly three in four Americans supported raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21, and 92% supported background checks on all gun buyers.
But Quinnipiac and other polls show that only about half of Americans support banning offensive weapons.
A president needs 60 votes (9 Republicans and 51 Democrats and independents) in the Senate to pass, and a simple majority of 218 votes in the House. Submit the bill to the floor for voting.
The June bill received support from 14 Republicans in the House and 15 Republicans in the Senate.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to bear arms. The issue is a big one for many Republicans, fueled by millions of donations from gun rights groups and manufacturers.
“Violent crime is on the rise and people are desperate for solutions. Instead, the president is a heinous crime,” said NRA spokesperson Lars Dulceide.
The White House, including statistics from University of Massachusetts researcher Luis Clarabus, found a 37% drop in gun massacres and a 43% drop in gun massacre deaths in the decade that assault rifles were banned. points out statistics that show
A blanket ban on assault weapons is unlikely, but the Republican majority in the House is so thin that more modest measures, such as raising the age for buying assault weapons to 21, may be possible. There is, said Skala of the University of New Hampshire.
Supporters say the White House has other options it can pursue to reduce gun violence, from executive action to budgeting to enforcing existing laws, even if Congress does nothing for two years. .
Biden’s team says it recognizes the political potential.
“Our job is to keep trying. The president will continue to use the bully’s pulpit, continue to pursue executive action, and continue to build on the legislation passed last summer and keep moving forward.” Another senior White House official said.
(This article states at paragraph 22 that the 60 votes required in the Senate means 9 Republicans and 51 Democrats plus all independents, and 10 Republicans and 50 Democrats plus independents. Rephrased to mean all layers.)
Reporting by Jeff Mason and Richard Cowan. Editing by Heather Timmons and Nick Zieminski
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