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Biden points to assault weapons ban as a 'rational' option for gun control

"It makes no sense" to be able to purchase high-caliber assault rifles, the president told reporters outside the White House.
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President Joe Biden, pressed on potential avenues for gun control in the wake of the devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, pointed to an assault weapons ban Monday morning.

“It makes no sense to be able to purchase something that can fire up to 300 rounds,” he told reporters outside the White House after traveling from Delaware. “The idea of these high-caliber weapons — there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of, about self-protection, hunting and I guess — and, remember, the Constitution, the Second Amendment was never absolute. You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn't go out and purchase a lot of weaponry."

The president and the first lady visited Uvalde on Sunday, meeting with first responders and consoling the families of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School. He and Jill Biden visited the school and attended mass at a local church, where demonstrators nearby chanted "Do something." Biden mouthed back, "We will."

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday. Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

Speaking with reporters Monday, Biden said he “deliberately” did not discuss potential legislation with Republicans while consoling the families, but he said he expected members of the GOP to take a hard look at potential paths for change.

A bipartisan group of senators began informal talks last week on gun safety, discussing legislation including red flag laws that allow police or family members to petition courts to remove guns from dangerous individuals. Lawmakers say there is renewed energy around the issue following the deadly massacres in Uvalde and a little over a week earlier, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

"There's a sense of, you know, urgency that maybe we didn’t feel before," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thursday. "So we're gonna try."

On Monday, Biden appeared to credit a federal assault rifle ban — which expired in 2004 — for reducing gun deaths previously, saying, "I know what happened when we had rational action before," adding that the prohibition "cut down mass murders."

"Not many are saying it anymore, but there was a while there where people were saying that, you know, the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, and what we have to do is, we have to be able to take on the government when they're wrong. Well, to do that you need an F-15, you know? You need an Abrams tank."

So, it's just, as I say, I think things have gotten so bad that everybody’s getting more rational about it," he concluded. "At least, that’s my hope and prayer."

He added that he thought "there’s a realization on the part of rational Republicans — and I think Senator [Mitch] McConnell is a rational Republican; I think Cornyn is as well. I think there’s a recognition in their part that they — we can’t continue like this. We can’t do this."