Biden calls for a ban on assault weapons, but lacks support in Congress

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In the wake of two mass shootings in California, President Joe Biden on Tuesday again called on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons, just a few months after he signed the bill into law bipartisan gun control legislation who do not banish the deadly weapons.

Saturday night a shooter opened fire at a dance hall in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and injuring several others. And on Monday, seven people were killed in two related shootings in Northern California’s Half Moon Bay.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff identified the gun used in the Monterey Park mass shooting as a semi-automatic MAC-10 assault weaponbut a description of the gun used by the Half Moon Bay gunner has only been generally described as a semi-automatic pistol.

The White House has long intended to show that it takes gun control laws seriously. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Monterey Park on Wednesday Mr Biden in December attended a vigil for victims of gun violence.

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Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy introduced a pair of gun control bills Monday: the first would ban the sale of assault weapons, and the other would raise the age to buy an assault weapon to 21. Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island is expected to introduce a companion bill to the assault weapons ban in the House, according to Feinstein’s office.

Addressing Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, Biden said, “I’m asking all of you to get that over to my desk as soon as possible. It’s really needed.”

NY House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, left, and Vice President Kamala Harris listen as President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Democratic lawmakers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, January 24, 2023, in Washington. /Credit: Evan Vucci/UKTN

After mass shootings last year in Buffalo, New Yorkand Uvalde, Texas, 10 Republican senators joined every Senate Democrat and the Democrat-led House to vote to pass gun control legislation that improved background checks for gun buyers under 21 and closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicts from domestic abusers buy a firearm for five years. Mr Biden quickly signed the bill into law.

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But Mr. Biden would like to see legislation that goes further, a new one ban assault weapons, such as the 1994 bill he helped pass as a senator. It banned more than a dozen assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and it expired in 2004.

In July 2022, the Democrat-led House passed a similar ban. Two Republicans voted with the majority of Democrats in favor of the bill, while five Democrats voted against. But the legislation has never been heard in the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to put a bill to a vote. At the time, the Democrats only had 50 seats in the Senate.

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Feinstein’s current bill faces the same obstacle, as Democrats currently hold only 51 seats in the Senate.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, one of 10 Republicans who worked with Democrats last summer to pass bipartisan gun legislation, said Tuesday that “there aren’t enough votes in the Senate for a ban on assault weapons.” And there are also not enough votes in the House of Representatives, now that the Republicans are in the majority.

Alan He and Camille Knox contributed to this report.

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