Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden has called for a reinstatement of an assault weapons ban in the wake of two mass shootings last week that killed 31 people, saying, “We have to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
“The 1994 assault weapons and high-capacity magazines bans worked. And if I am elected president, we’re going to pass them again — and this time, we’ll make them even stronger,” Biden wrote in a New York Timesop-ed published on Sunday.
The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban bill was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. It expired in September 2004. Since then an assault weapons ban hasn’t been in place in the US.
Biden claimed that along with Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) he got the bill passed in 1994, and said he “fought hard to extend” the ban in 2004, but failed to do so.
“The Republicans who allowed these laws to expire asserted that they were ineffective. But, almost 15 years after the bans expired, with the unfortunate benefit of hindsight, we now know that they did make a difference,” Biden wrote.
In his op-ed, Biden said that data about mass shootings showed that from 1994 to 2004 there were fewer mass shootings in the country.
“There’s overwhelming data that shootings committed with assault weapons kill more people than shootings with other types of guns. And that’s the point,” he wrote.
“Shooters looking to inflict mass carnage choose assault weapons with high-capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. They choose them because they want to kill as many people as possible without having to stop and reload,” he continued.
In the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the gunmen used semi-automatic weapons with high-volume magazines.
Many have called for measures such as an assault weapon ban, universal background checks and other gun control reforms long stymied by partisan fighting in Washington.
Democrats have criticized Republican President Donald Trump’s mixed messaging this week on possible support for some gun control measures.
More than 200 mayors have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, urging him to cancel the August recess and summon lawmakers back to Washington to vote on gun-control legislation.
Several 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have also said that they would use the executive powers of the presidency to pursue gun-control measures if Congress again fails to act.
Trump meanwhile has suggested that he could sway the nation’s powerful pro-gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), to drop its opposition to gun restrictions.
On Thursday, the director of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, rejected calls for tougher restrictions on firearms.
Last year, Amnesty International warned that the gun violence situation in the US has grown into a full blown “human rights crisis” and the Trump administration was doing little to solve it.
According to Amnesty, an average of 106 individuals died a day from firearm-related incidents in 2016, totaling 38,658. Of that figure, nearly 23,000 were suicides and more than 14,400 were homicides.