Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday wrote that failing to enact a federal ban on assault weapons in response to a pair of mass shootings earlier this month would amount to a "moral" failure by politicians and represent a tacit acceptance of future massacres.
“If we cannot rise to meet this moment, it won’t just be a political failure. It will be a moral one. It will mean that we accept the next inevitable tragedy,” Biden, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
Proponents of gun reform have pushed President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support a measure mandating federal criminal background checks during all firearm sales that House lawmakers passed in February.
But national Democrats have also pressured the GOP to consider instituting a new prohibition on the sale of assault weapons, similar to the ban Biden helped author 25 years ago as a U.S. senator from Delaware.
That moratorium, ratified as part of the 1994 crime bill that has dogged Biden’s White House candidacy, outlawed the manufacture, transfer and possession of 19 types of military-style assault weapons and expired in 2004 in accordance with its 10-year sunset provision.
“Those gun safety reforms made our nation demonstrably more secure,” Biden wrote Sunday. “They were also, sadly, the last meaningful gun legislation we were able get signed into law before the N.R.A. and the gun manufacturers put the Republican Party in a headlock.”
All 2020 Democratic presidential candidates endorse some version of an assault weapons ban, a policy favored by a majority of Americans polled on the issue, with Biden and a handful of other candidates also advocating for a voluntary federal buyback program.
“We have a huge problem with guns. Assault weapons — military-style firearms designed to fire rapidly — are a threat to our national security, and we should treat them as such,” Biden wrote. “Anyone who pretends there’s nothing we can do is lying — and holding that view should be disqualifying for anyone seeking to lead our country.”
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