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President Biden pleads for Congress to pass stricter gun laws, calls Second Amendment ‘not absolute’

In a rare appearance, the president calls for tougher gun laws amid mass shootings across the U.S. and makes a call to “do something about it.”

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President Joe Biden speaks about the latest round of mass shootings, from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 2, 2022. Biden is attempting to increase pressure on Congress to pass stricter gun limits after such efforts failed following past outbreaks.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In a rare nighttime appearance, President Joe Biden pled for the House and Senate to act swiftly to pass stricter gun laws in the U.S.

“This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights. It’s about protecting children,” Biden said. “It’s about protecting families. It’s about protecting whole communities. It’s about protecting our freedoms to go to school, to a grocery store, and to a church without being shot and killed.”

Biden addressed the country in the wake of mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, a medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Hours before he spoke there was a shooting at a church in Ames, Iowa, that killed three people.

The suggestions he pushed Congress to pass specifically include:

  • Raise the age to legally purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21.
  • Reinstate an assault weapons ban.
  • Expand background checks requirements.
  • Create new rules for storing weapons safely.
  • Enact new “red flag” laws to prevent gun sales to people with criminal records.
  • Repeal liability shields for gun manufacturers.
  • Ban high-capacity magazines.
  • Address “the mental health crisis.”

“Nothing has been done,” Biden said. “This time that can’t be true. This time we must actually do something.”

During the speech, he referred to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that calculated firearm deaths as the No. 1 cause of death in children and adolescents.

On Thursday night, the House Judiciary voted 25 to 19 on a package “of tougher gun restrictions,” and all Republicans opposed the legislation, per The Washington Post.

It is expected to pass the House next week, but will likely not advance in the Senate, according to The Washington Post.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., met on Wednesday to talk about changes to red flag laws regarding gun safety. Blumenthal told CNN the conversation was “productive and encouraging.”

“The Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute,” Biden said. “... There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America.”

Read the full transcript of the speech on the White House Briefing Room.