US President Joe Biden says it is up to Congress to pass gun control legislation and outlaw assault weapons in the wake of two horrific mass shootings, adding, “I can’t dictate this stuff.”
“I can do the things I’ve done and any executive action I can take, I’ll continue to take. But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t change a background check. I can’t do that,” Biden said after stepping off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House following a trip to Texas, where he met with families of victims of the Uvalde school shooting Tuesday.
Biden said that after meeting people who were affected by the shooting in Uvalde, he will “continue to push” for gun reform, but added he could not detail any legislation that could pass Congress as he has not spoken to Republicans.
His remark came a day after he promised to take action to curb gun violence as he visited Robb Elementary School and a local church in Uvalde.
Asked by a reporter on Monday if he was optimistic for a deal after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled a desire to work with Democrats on gun reform, the president responded, “I don’t know.”
Biden, however, said that gun violence and mass shootings in the United States have “gotten so bad” that members of Congress have finally become “more rational about it.”
He also criticized a constitutional clause that Republicans often use in their argument in favor of the right to purchase and carry firearms. “The Second Amendment was never absolute,” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed.”
On Tuesday, 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, 10 days after a mass shooting at a store n Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead.
Police say the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after earlier shooting his grandmother, who survived.
There have been conflicting accounts of how law enforcement responded to the shooting. The Department of Justice on Sunday said it would open an investigation into the police response at the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.
More than 45,000 people were killed by gun violence in the United States last year, up from 43,671 in 2020 and 39,581 in 2019, according to FBI data.