Biden Rallies Americans Behind Universal Background Checks & Banning Assault Rifles

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On Wednesday, President Joe Biden joined those marking a year since the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed.

Since that attack, in which the assailant used a legally obtained firearm, officials at both the state and national levels have taken action, including with new federal legislation that, among other features, closed the so-called boyfriend loophole. That change means that individuals guilty of domestic violence offenses in the context of a relationship outside of marriage will have their cases added to a database that is used in the often — though not universally — mandatory background checks for purchases of guns. The federal move also added necessary levels of review for the background checks done on prospective purchasers under 21. (The attacker in Uvalde was 18.)

And in state Capitols, largely Democratic officials have imposed their own systems of universal background checks or red flag laws, the latter of which provide legal frameworks by which concerned third parties can seek a temporary restriction from a judicial authority on the ability to access firearms by an individual suspected of posing a danger to themselves or others. Minnesota and Michigan have recently set their own red flag laws into motion. Democrats won control of both the state legislature and governorship in both of those states in last year’s midterm elections. Elsewhere, Washington and Illinois have both implemented new bans on assault rifles, defined either according to a series of specific models or specific features that make the firearms function similarly.

“Standing there in Uvalde, Jill and I couldn’t help but think that too many schools, too many everyday places have become killing fields in communities all across — every part of America,” Biden said. “And in each place, we hear the same message: Do something. For God’s sake, please do something. We did something afterwards, but not nearly enough. We still need to ban, in my view, AR-15 firearms and assault weapons once again. You know, they’ve been used time and again in mass killings of innocent children and peoples. We need to ban high-capacity magazines — the ability to shoot 20, 30, 40, 60 bullets without reloading. Because today, guns remain the number-one killer — the number-one killer of children in America. Guns.”

Watch the president’s remarks below: