President Biden on Tuesday made a passionate plea for an assault weapons ban, invoking the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, to push Congress to pass such a ban.
Biden said during remarks in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., that parents had to use DNA to identify their children’s bodies following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in May when an 18-year-old killed 19 students and two teachers.
“Could not identify the body,” Biden said, yelling into the microphone. “A 20-year-old kid can walk in and buy one? DNA to say that’s my baby. What the hell’s the matter with us?”
“What are we doing?” he said.
His remarks in Wilkes-Barre, which is near his hometown of Scranton, were focused on community safety and on the bipartisan gun bill Biden signed into law in July.
“I’m determined to ban assault weapons in this country. Determined. I did it once, and I’ll do it again,” Biden said.
Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994, when Biden served in the Senate.
“It’s time to hold every elected official’s feet to the fire and ask them, are you for banning assault weapons? Yes or no? Ask them,” Biden said. “If the answer’s no, vote against them.”
He used the event on Tuesday to also voice his support for Democrat John Fetterman, who is running against Republican Mehmet Oz for the open Pennsylvania Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R).
Biden said that he has two shotguns at home, arguing that he is not opposed to the Second Amendment.
“We’re living in a country awash with weapons of war. Weapons that weren’t designed to hunt, they’re designed to take on an enemy,” Biden said. “For God’s sake, what’s the rationale for these weapons outside of a war zone? They inflict severe damage.”
And he cited the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who said that the rights granted through the Second Amendment are not unlimited.
“We have to act for all those kids gunned down on our streets every single day that never make the news,” Biden said. “You have to act so our kids can learn to read in school instead of learning to duck and cover.”
The president outlined his request for $37 billion in the annual budget to go towards supporting law enforcement and for crime prevention, which includes nearly $13 billion over five years to hire and train 100,000 additional police officers.
He reenforced his stance against defunding the police, which was the popular progressive movement from the 2020 election.
“It’s based on a simple notion: When it comes to public safety in this nation, the answer is not to defund the police, it’s fund the police. Fund the police,” he said.
Biden argued that more funding for police officers can lead to more accountability.
“As we hire more police officers, there should be more training, more help and more accountability. Without public trust, law enforcement can’t do its job serving and protecting all the communities,” he said.
He touted his executive actions toward federal law enforcement like banning choke holders and no-knock warrants and creating a database for officers to be held accountable. And he noted that parents have to tell their sons to keep their hands on the steering wheel if they get stopped or that people have been gunned down for “simply jogging.”
“I’ve not met a cop who likes a bad cop. There’s bad in everything. There’s lousy senators, there’s lousy presidents, there’s lousy doctors, there’s lousy lawyers,” Biden said. “But I don’t know any police officer that feels good about the fact that there may be a lousy cop, and I’m tired of not giving the kind of help they need.”