President Joe Biden Thursday addressed the nation and called on Congress to address gun violence. Biden advocated for several measures including banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, stronger background checks, safe storage and red flag laws, removing immunity for gun manufacturers and more robust mental health systems. Biden also called for the minimum age for assault weapon ownership to be raised from 18 to 21 if Congress is not able to pass a ban.
In response to recent gun violence in the US, the House of Representatives has passed a series of legislative acts, including the “Protecting Our Kids” act, but the bills have stalled in the Senate. Biden addressed the delay, saying:
But, as we know, in order to do any- — get anything done in the Senate, we need a minimum of 10 Republican senators. I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way. But my God, the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.
Activist groups Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety shared support for Biden’s remarks. In a joint statement, the groups wrote, “[a] grassroots army of…volunteers that is getting bigger and stronger by the minute has turned out across the country to join President Biden’s message tonight: Senators, don’t look away from this gun violence epidemic.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) rebutted Biden’s remarks, pointing out that “upwards of a million” guns a year are used to prevent crime. The NRA has cited similar statistics. Cruz cited the CDC as his source, but the CDC does not publish data on defensive gun use and notes that “additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.” Cruz’s figure appears to come from a 2013 report that has since been criticized for its accuracy and methodology.
Some gun violence activists criticized the speech and called for stronger action from White House. Manuel Oliver, whose son was killed in a school shooting, said, “I was expecting an executive order and all we got was an executive prayer.”