- President Biden called on the Senate to address gun control “now” at a Friday press conference.
- Following another mass shooting Thursday, Biden called the uptick in gun deaths a “national embarrassment.”
- The president reaffirmed his support for universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles.
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President Joe Biden put public pressure on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a Friday press conference, demanding the Senate consider House-passed gun control bills immediately, in response to a recent uptick in mass shootings.
Biden was joined by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for a wide-ranging news conference following the leaders’ in-person summit which was focused on American-Japanese cooperation in countering China
During the event, Biden and Suga fielded questions about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the South China Sea, and Iran. But it was a question about Biden’s legislative progress, or lack thereof, on gun control and police reform that sparked the president’s most impassioned response.
“This has to end,” Biden said. “It’s a national embarrassment…every single day there’s a mass shooting in the United States if you count all those who are killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas.”
The president reaffirmed his support for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons. Biden also said upon taking office, he immediately asked the attorney general to investigate the possible executive actions available to him relating to gun control.
But Biden bucked the suggestion he wasn’t prioritizing the issue, noting he doesn’t set the Senate agenda and instead urged Congressional leadership to “step up and act.”
He specifically asked Senate leadership to bring up a House-passed gun control bill as soon as possible.
Last month, the House passed HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 in a 227-203 vote. The bill would extend background check requirements on almost all gun transfers, including between private sellers. It would also require that gun sales between private parties be handled by a licensed firearms dealer, who would take control of the weapon while the background check was in progress.
Around the same time, the House also passed HR 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, which would increase the amount of time to a minimum of 10 business days that an unlicensed person must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transfer.
But Schumer, who is in charge of setting the Senate agenda as majority leader, has been waiting to bring gun control legislation to the floor, in part, because Democrats and Republicans in the chamber are trying to find a bipartisan compromise on the issue, according to PBS correspondent Lisa Desjardins.
The calls for increased gun control come on the heels of yet another mass shooting Thursday at a FedEx in Indianapolis that left eight dead.