US

‘Everyday places have become killing fields’: Biden calls for ban on assault weapons and gun purchase age to be raised to 21

US President Joe Biden has called for Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and bring in a number of other gun control measures.

Speaking from the White House after a number of recent mass shootings, Mr Biden asked how many more deaths would be needed to force change.

He said “too many everyday places have become killing fields”, adding: “For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?”

Among the changes Mr Biden has called for are:

• Tougher background checks
• A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine
• Raising the minimum age to purchase guns to 21
• Repealing the liability shield that protects gun manufacturers from being sued for violence perpetrated by people carrying their weapons

And he described opposition to debating changes to gun control legislation from Senate Republicans as “unconscionable”, saying: “We can’t fail the American people again.”

“This time we have to take the time to do something.

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“I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up and if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either.

“I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.”

It comes after 19 children and two teachers were shot dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; 10 people were killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York; and four people were killed at a medical building in Oklahoma – all in recent days.

The US has a higher rate of gun deaths than any other wealthy nation, with more than 18,000 people dying from gun violence in 2022 (including in homicide and suicide), according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The UK, Canada, and Australia all passed strict gun laws after mass shootings in their countries, but the US – despite many more massacres – has struggled to pass such legislation.

A committee in the US House of Representatives is working on a bill that would toughen national gun laws, but it has little chance of passing the Senate.

The Senate is split – 50 Democrats, and 50 Republicans – and a law must have 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, which means that a new law needs bipartisan support.

The powerful gun lobby also backs many of the politicians who oppose gun control legislation.

Christian Heyne, vice president for policy at Brady, a gun violence prevention group, said: “The only room in America where you can’t find more than 60% support for universal background checks is on the floor of the US Senate.”

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