Speed Reads

'just do something'

Biden calls on Congress to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines: 'Let's meet the moment'

President Biden spoke to the nation about gun violence on Thursday night, pleading for Congress to take action and enact common-sense gun laws that could prevent future mass shootings.

"There are too many schools, too many other every day places that have become killing fields, battlefields, here in America," Biden said from the White House.

In the last few weeks, Biden has met with families who lost their loved ones in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, and they had "one message for all of us: Do something," Biden said. "Just do something, for God's sake, do something."

Biden said an "overwhelming majority" of Americans agree on the need for "rational, common-sense measures," including strengthening background checks and adding storage and red flag laws. He also said there must be a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, "and if we can't ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21." Finally, lawmakers must repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability and address the country's mental health crisis, sending more counselors and nurses to schools.

"This is not about taking away anyone's guns," Biden said. "It's not about vilifying gun owners. In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as examples of how every gun owner should behave. I respect the culture and tradition and concerns of lawful gun owners. At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute."

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that guns are the No. 1 killer of children in the United States, and over the last two decades, more school-age children have died because of guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. "How much more carnage are we willing to accept?" Biden asked. "How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough?"

Law enforcement supported the assault weapons ban that expired during the George W. Bush administration, Biden said, and it was proven to work; after those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. While the House of Representatives has recently voted on gun control measures, "the fact that the majority of Senate Republicans don't want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable," Biden said.

These measures protect entire communities, Biden said, and now is the "time to act for the children we lost, the children we can save, for the nation we love. Let's hear the call and the cry. Let's meet the moment. Let us finally do something."