President Biden said on Thursday that he would push Congress to enact new gun control laws before Republicans took control of the US House of Representatives in January.
Biden told reporters during a press event in Nantucket, Massachusetts that the recent shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Colorado had reinforced the need to pass an assault weapons ban.
“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick,” Biden said. “It has no socially redeeming value… Not a single solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.”
Semi-automatic guns, including handguns and rifles, fire one bullet for each pull of the trigger.
Biden said he would push federal lawyers to enact a new assault weapons ban before January when the next Congress took office and Republicans gained control of the House.
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“I’m going to try,” said the president. “I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.”
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Biden said he would engage lawyers to make a broader assessment of whether success is possible. At the moment, the odds appear long.
Democrats control the House by a narrow margin until January. The Senate, meanwhile, is split 50-50 between both parties. For a sweeping gun control package to pass, including a ban on assault weapons, at least 10 GOP supporters will be needed to break the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.
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Earlier this year, Biden’s call for an assault weapons ban fell flat with Republicans, even as nearly two dozen GOP senators bucked the gun lobby to advance a bipartisan gun bill.
The political environment is unlikely to get easier in January. While Democrats lost control of the House to Republicans, the party kept narrow control of the Senate—albeit nowhere near enough to break an expected filibuster without GOP support.