Sign up for the daily Inside Washington email for exclusive US coverage and analysis sent to your inbox
Get our free Inside Washington email
President Joe Biden denounced the proliferation of semi-automatic weapons and the fact that some areas of the country did not enforce so-called “red flag laws” meant to prevent people who posed a danger to themselves and others.
Mr Biden made the remarks on Thanksgiving in Nantucket after delivering pumpkin pies to firefighters. The president’s remarks came after a mass shooting in Colorado Springs killed five people at Club Q, a gay bar, and a shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, left six dead.
“The idea we still allow semi- automatic weapons to be purchased is sick,” he told reporters. “Just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.”
The president also criticised the fact that some areas of the country do not enforce red flag laws. In Colorado Springs, police arrested Anderson Lee Aldrich, who is accused of killing five people at Club Q, a year before the shooting.
This came despite the fact despite the fact Colorado has universal background checks and has a “red flag law” that went into effect in 2020, which allows for citizens and police to file an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” to prevent someone who poses a threat to themselves or others.
But the sheriff’s department in El Paso County, where the alleged shooter was arrested, opposes the red flag law. Mr Biden criticised the refusal to enforce laws.
“The idea that we’re not enforcing red flag laws…is ridiculous,” he told reporters.
Earlier this year, after the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Mr Biden signed legislation that included $750m in federal aid for five years for the 19 states and the District of Columbia, all of which currently have red flag laws.
That legislation passed on a largely bipartisan basis. But Mr Biden has talked about banning assault weapons not unlike the provision he helped pass when he was a Senator.
“I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons,” he told reporters on Thursday.
But that seems increasingly unlikely given that Republicans won a slight majority in the House of Representatives this month and Democrats flipped only one Senate seat in Pennsylvania, adding a seat to their majority. That leaves the current Senate makeup at 50-49 with Georgia having a runoff election between Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican nominee Herschel Walker.
But even if Democrats held the seat, it would likely not be enough to overcome a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to break.
Reporters asked if he would try to pass an assault weapons ban before the new GOP majority was sworn in.
“I’m going to do it whenever – I’ve got to make that assessment as I get in and start counting votes,” he said.