Weapons activists who say they need the kind of weapons used in a couple of deadly mass shootings earlier this month to defend themselves against the hypothetical government tyranny would be hopelessly defeated, President Joe Biden said.
Biden, who spoke to reporters upon his return to the White House for Memorial Day, said he was “motivated enough” to enact new gun safety laws long before traveling to Ulvalde, Texas to meet with families. of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting that claimed 21 lives at Robb Elementary School last week.
He said he decided to avoid negotiations with the Republicans until he visited the tragedy-stricken city, and said the pain he encountered there was “palpable” and told reporters it was “hard to tell” whether the GOP would accept any of the proposals that have been presented in the last week.
But the president stressed that he could not “dictate” weapons policy through executive action except for the actions he has taken so far in his term.
“I can’t dictate these things. I can do the things I have done and any executive action I can take, I will continue to do. But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t edit a background check. I can’t do that, “he said. He added that he doesn’t know whether negotiations between Texas Senator John Cornyn and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy will produce legislation that meets the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for overcoming a probable GOP problem.
Mr. Biden did not offer any details as to what he would have preferred Congress to do, but implied that the assault weapons ban that helped lead Congress as part of the 1994 crime bill signed by the then President Bill Clinton made a difference while it was in effect.
“I know it doesn’t make sense to be able to buy something that can fire up to 300 rounds,” he said. “Significantly Reduced Mass Murders” /
Biden added that there are also limits to the broad right to possess and bear arms that Americans enjoy under the United States Constitution.
“Remember … the Second Amendment was never absolute,” he said. “You couldn’t buy a gun when the Second Amendment was passed and you couldn’t go out and buy a lot of guns [today]”.
Continuing, the president said that those who claim they need AR-15 rifles to “confront the government” are “wrong” because the weapons they would need are not legal to own.
“To do that you need an F-15, you need an Abrams tank,” he said.
While gun rights activists have an absolutist view of Second Amendment protections, the president’s view is in line with the opinion expressed by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2007 case in which the court first granted an individual’s right to keep a firearm at home for personal protection.
“Like most rights, the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Scalia wrote. “History proves … the right was not a right to possess and carry any weapon in any way and for any purpose.”
Shortly after speaking to reporters, Biden warned that the “foundations” of the “great American” experiment are never guaranteed “because each generation must act to” defeat the deadly enemies of democracy “as he speaks at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. to mark the Day of Remembrance.
He said that democracy is “the way we undertake the constant work of perfecting our union”.
“We haven’t perfected it, but we’ve never stopped trying … opening wider doors, offering opportunities, prosperity and justice to people around the world,” he said.