President Joe Biden told Congress on Wednesday he wants to see a new ban on certain guns and ammunition magazines.
“I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well,” Biden said. “We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines again.”
The plea came during the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress. He said gun violence has become an “epidemic,” and the solution was a new assault-weapons ban. He touted the previous assault-weapons ban as an example of his success in passing gun restrictions.
“In the 90s, we passed universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold 100 rounds that can be fired in seconds,” Bide said. “We beat the NRA.”
Biden also claimed “gun violence declined” during the first assault weapons ban. But a Department of Justice study found the effect of the ban was “small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
“[Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban,” the study’s authors said.
His call for a new ban on popular rifles such as the AR-15 and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition was one in a long list of asks from Congress. He pointed to the executive actions he’s taken on guns as proof he was willing to act without Congress. He said his plan to deal with so-called ghost guns—a leaked copy of which was published by The Reload last week—would ban homemade gun kits.
“The buyers of ghost-gun kits aren’t required to pass a background check,” Biden said. “Anyone from a criminal to a terrorist could buy this kit and, in as little as 30 minutes, put together a lethal weapon. But not anymore.”
In addition to a new assault weapons ban, Biden called on the Senate to pass a universal background check bill. He blamed Republicans for the lack of movement on the issue even though Democrats control the chamber.
“We need more Senate Republicans to join with the overwhelming majority of their Democratic colleagues, and close loopholes, and require background checks to purchase a gun,” he said.
Biden finished his speech by arguing the Second Amendment is not absolute and Congress should place further limits on gun ownership.
“No amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” he said. “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. From the very beginning, there were certain guns, weapons that could not be owned by Americans. Certain people could not own those weapons ever.”