WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday he would make a renewed effort to enact a ban on assault rifles following a spate of mass shootings that have thrown a new spotlight on the country’s gun laws.
Speaking to reporters while visiting a firehouse on Thanksgiving morning, the president reiterated his long-standing argument that such guns pose a societal threat and should not be sold.
“The idea that we’re still allowing semi-automatic guns to be bought is sick,” he said, greeting firefighters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he and his family are spending the Thanksgiving holiday. “It has no, no social redemptive value. Zero. No. There’s no reason for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.
Congress has been reluctant to ban AR-15s and other assault weapons. The Democratic-controlled House passed a ban in July, largely along party lines. But the bill has little chance of passing in the Senate, where 10 Republicans would have to join a united Democratic caucus to break a filibuster.
Biden was asked if he could push for a ban during the lame-duck session of Congress, when outgoing lawmakers not facing new elections might feel freer to break with grassroots voters and the well-funded gun lobby.
“I’m going to try,” Biden said.
“I’ll do it when I…” he continued. “I have to make that assessment when I come in and start counting the votes.”
The office of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden’s comments came two days after officials said a night manager at a Walmart store in Virginia opened fire on his colleagues, killing six people and injuring at least six others. The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Andre Bing, apparently committed suicide. Authorities say he was armed with a gun.
Mass shootings are taking place with chilling frequency. On Saturday, a gunman killed five people and injured 19 others at Club Q, an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police said patrons may have prevented more deaths by confronting and disarming the suspect, identified by officials as Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22. The weapon used was in the style of a Colt AR-15, according to Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez.
According to the White House, President and First Lady Jill Biden called the owners of Club Q on Thursday. They told the two owners, Nic Grzecka and Matthew Haynes, that they are committed to fighting “hate and gun violence,” according to the White House.
Biden has a long history of ups and downs trying to ban the sale of assault weapons. As a senator from Delaware in 1994, he helped usher in an assault-weapon ban that was credited with reducing deaths from mass shootings. The ban expired 10 years later, during the administration of President George W. Bush, and was never renewed.
Biden pledged during his 2020 campaign to ban the sale and manufacture of assault weapons, and at a televised town hall event last month, he reiterated that he would keep that promise.
“By the way, I’m getting a ban on assault weapons,” the president told UKTN. “Before this is over, I’m going to get that one more time. No joke, and watch out.”
With Republicans set to take control of the House in 2023, the year-end lame-duck session may be one last chance for Biden to achieve his goal before the 2024 presidential election.
“I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons,” Biden said at the firehouse.
The first family returned to the island of Massachusetts in a tradition that began decades ago when Joe and Jill Biden were still dating.
The President and First Lady delivered pumpkin pies to firefighters in Nantucket, accompanied by their grandson, Beau, who was given a small fire helmet to wear.
They also came to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, thanked firefighters and service members and said it would be a quiet day.
“We’re just going to have dinner with the family, probably take a walk on the beach, and just be thankful for our family,” said Jill Biden.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com