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Biden Vows Federal Action on Guns; No New Ban On Assault Weapons

The back-to-back mass shootings in California underscored a political reality on Capitol Hill: Even after a pair of massacres, Congress is unlikely to muster a bipartisan consensus to enact any additional gun control measures in response. As leading Democrats have joined President Biden’s call to impose new limits on access to firearms, Republicans kept virtually silent, the New York Times reports. The divergent reactions reflect the gulf between the two parties, even after they came together last year to push through the first major gun control legislation in decades. Negotiators regarded that modest measure, aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, as the furthest they could go in forging a bipartisan compromise on guns. The chances of enacting more aggressive steps, like reinstating a ban on assault weapons, are nonexistent, with Republicans not only opposed to new limits but also making new proposals to protect the free flow of guns. “It’s clear that the prevalence of guns in our country has made tragedies like this one too frequent,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), reacting to the shooting in Monterey Park, Ca., where 11 people were killed President Biden said he was talking to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and others about a federal response. “We’re working out a number of things that we can and are going to be doing,” he said.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader and one of the 15 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the gun safety legislation last year, made no public statement about the mass shootings. Democrats have conceded that they do not have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass a new assault-style weapons ban. Even if they did, there is little chance that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring up such a measure for a vote in the House, where Republicans adamantly oppose an assault weapons ban or any measure seen as infringing on gun rights. Last year's new federal law enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers ages 18 to 21. It also provided incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws that allow guns to be temporarily confiscated from people whom a judge deems too dangerous to possess them. The measure also ensured for the first time that serious dating partners would be included in a federal law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing firearms.


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