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Biden to deliver prime-time address on guns


President Joe Biden will deliver prime-time remarks on Thursday evening “on the recent tragic mass shootings, and the need for Congress to act to pass commonsense laws to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is taking lives every day,” according to the White House.

In an updated schedule for the president on Thursday, the White House said he will speak to the nation at 7:30 p.m. from the White House Cross Hall.

Biden taking the national spotlight comes amid questions over why he has not yet lobbied lawmakers personally and more forcefully on the issue.

“I can’t dictate this stuff. I can do the things that I’ve done. And any executive action I can take, I’ll continue to take,” he told reporters Monday. “But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t, you know, change the background checks. I can’t do that.”

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers remarks from the Cross Hall at the White House, May 20, 2021.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks from the Cross Hall at the White House, May 20, 2021.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images, FILE

The White House said Tuesday he would get personally involved at the right time after he told reporters he “will meet with the Congress on guns — I promise you,” but did not provide details on when a meeting might take place.

The latest mass shooting on Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, leaving four dead, follows a massacre of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, as well as an apparently racially-motivated attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, leaving 10 Black people dead.

In impassioned remarks from the White House last week after the Uvalde shooting, Biden expressed outrage at lawmakers who are blocking “common-sense” gun laws and rejected the argument often heard from Republicans that gun violence is a mental health issue.

“These kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” Biden said with outrage. “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with and stand up to the lobbies?”

After Biden said earlier this week he’s “not confident” Congress will be able to pass gun reform legislation, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, under questioning about the president’s involvement in the Hill negotiations, said that Biden understands that some negotiations require giving Congress “a little space.”

While serving as then-President Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was tasked in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting to lead the administration’s effort to enact tougher gun control laws — but in the nearly decade since the nation mourned for Newtown, no action on gun control has passed at a federal level.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects at the Robb Elementary School memorial, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade, in Uvalde, Texas, May 29, 2022.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects at the Robb Elementary School memorial, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade, in Uvalde, Texas, May 29, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The last meaningful gun reform legislation passed on Capitol Hill was the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 due to a “sunset” clause in the legislation. Similar legislation has failed for decades in the Senate due in large part to the filibuster rule, which requires 60 senators for a measure to advance toward a final vote. Though Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in Congress, they cannot push legislation through the Senate without the support of at least 10 Republicans.

In recent weeks, the president has floated the idea of lawmakers revisiting the assault weapons ban, as most mass shootings in the U.S. involve assault weapons, but it’s unlikely that would garner any Republican support in the Senate.

The American public is widely supportive of universal background checks, which have already passed through the House’s Democratic majority. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in September 2019 found 89% support for universal background checks, including at least eight in 10 Republicans and conservatives.

As Biden prepares for his remarks Thursday evening, funerals are underway in Uvalde, where he’s visited families of victims.

He claimed earlier this week to have visited more aftermaths of mass shootings than any other American president.



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