President Joe Biden blamed the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republicans’ fear of getting “primaried” as the reason behind a lack of legislative progress on gun safety in the U.S. during his appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” late on Wednesday night, days after a series of deadly mass shootings rocked the country.
Biden said the NRA had intimidated members of the Republican Party into believing that if they back “rational gun policy” they will face a primary challenge from hard-right Republicans.
When asked by Kimmel if Republican leaders behind the scenes acknowledge that they would like to do something to tackle gun violence, Biden responded “many of them do.”
The president then urged Americans to make sure that gun safety becomes a “voting issue” and to understand a candidate’s stance on issues like assault weapon ownership and magazine sizes.
Kimmel then asked Biden if he couldn’t just pass an executive order to deal with gun violence, Biden responded he has issued some of them within the remit of his powers as a president.
The president, however, noted that he doesn’t want to emulate his predecessor Trump’s “abuse of the constitution” with executive orders.
“I often get asked, the Republicans don’t play it square, why do you play it square? Well, guess what, if we do the same thing they do our democracy will literally be in jeopardy. It’s not a joke,” Biden added.
Over the past few weeks, the U.S. has witnessed multiple mass shooting incidents including one which left 19 children and two teachers dead in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. In the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, Biden delivered a televised address in which he urged lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation. Biden’s proposals included the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, limiting of large magazines, universal background check, among other things. The NRA issued a statement pushing back against the president’s proposals, saying they were not “functional measures and real solutions” that would crackdown on crime and “help those with dangerous behavioral health issues.” The gun lobby group said Biden’s proposals will “infringe on the rights” of “law-abiding” gun owners “who have never, and will never, commit a crime.”
Actor Matthew McConaughey—who briefly flirted with a run for the Texas governorship—also addressed the issue of gun violence during his visit to the White House earlier this week. McConaughey urged lawmakers to pass gun control legislation, saying: “Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals.”
What To Watch For
Several Democratic leaders in the Senate, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have expressed optimism that a deal could be brokered to pass bipartisan gun control measures. Schumer on Tuesday said he expects Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to hash out an agreement with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and other Republicans by the end of this week. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), also said he would like to see a deal on gun legislation “sooner rather than later.” On Wednesday, the House passed several key gun control measures including a ban on large magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21. However, it is unclear if such legislation will garner enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster effort in the Senate.