WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Monday that the “Second Amendment has never been absolute” and that after the Texas elementary school shooting there may be bipartisan support for increasing restrictions on the types of high-powered weapons used by the shooter tighten .
“I think things have gotten so bad that everyone is becoming more reasonable, at least I hope so,” Biden told reporters on the White House lawn after returning to Washington.
His comments came a day after the president traveled to the devastated Texas community of Uvalde and spent more than three hours mourning privately with distressed families mourning the 19 children and two teachers who died in the shooting. Given the chants of “do something” as he exited a service, Biden promised, “We will.”
Arriving from Delaware for Memorial Day events, Biden was asked if he was more motivated now to see new federal restrictions on firearms.
“I was pretty motivated the whole time,” he said. “I’ll keep pushing and we’ll see how it goes.”
In Congress over the weekend, a bipartisan group of senators debated whether they could reach even a modest compromise on gun legislation after a decade of largely failed efforts. This included promoting state “red flag” laws to keep guns away from people with mental health problems.
“The Second Amendment was never absolute,” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn’t go out and buy a lot of guns.”
There isn’t nearly enough support from Republicans in Congress for broader gun measures that the public likes — like a new ban on assault weapons or universal background checks on gun purchases. Nevertheless, Democratic supporters hope that sensible measures could still be passed.
Biden said he hasn’t spoken to Republicans on the issue, “but I suspect … they need to take a close look at this.”
The president also said “there’s no point in being able to buy something that can fire up to 300 rounds,” adding, “There’s just no rationale for the idea of these high-powered weapons.”
Biden said he has taken some executive action regarding guns “but I can’t ban a gun” and “can’t change the background checks.”
He said he doesn’t know where the congressional negotiations stand, but “reasonable Republicans have the realization” that “we can’t keep repeating ourselves.”
President and First Lady Jill Biden, whose veteran son Beau died of a brain tumor in 2015, attended church near her home in Delaware early Monday morning and visited her son’s grave.
After flying back to the White House, they hosted a closed Memorial Day breakfast in the East Room with about 130 members from veterans organizations, military family groups and senior officials from the Department of Defense and other administration officials.
The couple were later joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Bidens later planned to honor families of soldiers killed by planting a magnolia tree on the South Lawn of the White House.
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