Emboldened Joe Biden, Dems pushing semi-automatic weapons ban

guns maine ap
A 60-vote threshold in the Senate means some Republicans must be on board.

When President Joe Biden speaks about the “scourge” of gun violence, his go-to answer is to zero in on semi-automatic weapons.

America has heard it hundreds of times, including this week after shootings in Colorado and Virginia: The president wants to sign into law a ban on high-powered guns that have the capacity to kill many people very quickly.

“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick,” Biden said on Thanksgiving Day.

After the mass killing last Saturday at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, he said in a statement: “When will we decide we’ve had enough? … We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets.”

Such a move is still far off in a closely divided Congress. But Biden and the Democrats have become increasingly emboldened in pushing for stronger gun controls — and doing so with no clear electoral consequences.

The Democratic-led House passed legislation in July to revive a 1990s-era ban on certain semi-automatic guns, with Biden’s vocal support. And the president pushed the weapons ban nearly everywhere that he campaigned this year.

Still, in the midterm elections, Democrats kept control of the Senate and Republicans were only able to claim the slimmest House majority in two decades.

The tough talk on guns follows passage in June of a landmark bipartisan bill on guns, and it reflects steady progress that gun control advocates have been making in recent years.

“I think the American public has been waiting for this message,” said Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who has been the Senate’s leading advocate for stronger gun control since the massacre of 20 children at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. “There has been a thirst from voters, especially swing voters, young voters, parents, to hear candidates talk about gun violence, and I think Democrats are finally sort of catching up with where the public has been.”

Just over half of voters want to see nationwide gun policy made more strict, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago. About 3 in 10 want gun policy kept as is. Only 14% prefer looser gun laws.

There are clear partisan divides. About 9 in 10 Democrats want stricter gun laws, compared with about 3 in 10 Republicans. About half of Republicans want gun laws left as they are and only one-quarter want to see gun laws be made less strict.

When politicians talk about semi-automatic weapons, they usually mean semi-automatic rifles that can fire 30 rounds fast without reloading. By comparison, most New York Police Department officers carry a semi-automatic handgun that shoots 15 rounds.

Once banned in the United States, the high-powered firearms are now the weapon of choice among young men responsible for many of the most devastating mass shootings. Congress allowed the restrictions first put in place in 1994 on the manufacture and sales of the weapons to expire a decade later, unable to muster the political support to counter the powerful gun lobby and reinstate the weapons ban.

When he was governor of Florida, current Republican Sen. Rick Scott signed gun control laws in the wake of mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a night club in Orlando. But he has consistently opposed bans on semi-automatic weapons, arguing like many of his Republican colleagues that most gun owners use their weapons lawfully.

“People are doing the right thing, why would we take away their weapons?” Scott asked as the Senate was negotiating gun legislation last summer. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

He said more mental health counseling, assessments of troubled students and law enforcement on campus make more sense.

“Let’s focus on things that actually would change something,” Scott said.

Law enforcement officials have long called for stricter gun laws, arguing that the availability of these weapons makes people less safe and makes their jobs more dangerous.

Mike Moore, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, the country’s third-largest, said it just makes sense to talk about guns when gun violence is rising nationwide, and consider what the government can do to make the streets safer. He is grateful Biden is bringing it up so much.

“This isn’t a one-and-done,” Moore said of the shooting in Colorado Springs. “These things are evolving all the time, in other cities, at any moment another incident happens. It’s crying out for the federal government, for our legislators, to go out and make this change,” he said.

Over the past six months there has been a supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York; a massacre of school children in Uvalde, Texas; and the July Fourth shooting of revelers in Highland Park, Illinois.

On Tuesday, six people were shot dead at a Walmart in Virginia.

The legislation that Biden signed in June will, among other things, help states put in place “red flag” laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people judged to be dangerous.

But a ban on semi-automatic weapons was never on the table.

A 60-vote threshold in the Senate means some Republicans must be on board. Most are are steadfastly opposed, arguing it would be too complicated, especially as sales and varieties of the firearms have proliferated. There are many more types of those weapons – and many more of the weapons themselves – today than in 1994, when the ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

“I’d rather not try to define a whole group of guns as being no longer available to the American public,” said Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who is a hunter and owns several guns, some of them passed down through his family. “For those of us who have grown up with guns as part of our culture, and we use them as tools — there’s millions of us, there’s hundreds of millions of us — that use them lawfully.”

In many states where the bans have been enacted, the restrictions are being challenged in court, gaining strength from a Supreme Court ruling in June expanding gun rights.

“We feel pretty confident, even despite the arguments made by the other side, that history and tradition as well as the text of the Second Amendment are on our side,” said David Warrington, chairman and general counsel for the National Association for Gun Rights.

Biden was instrumental in helping secure the 1990s ban as a senator. The White House said that while it was in place, mass shootings declined, and when it expired in 2004, shootings tripled.

The reality is complicated.

The data on the effectiveness is mixed and there is a sense that other measures that are not as politically fraught might actually be more effective, said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York-Cortland and author of “The Politics of Gun Control.”

Politically, the ban sparked a backlash, even though the final law was a compromise version of the initial bill, he said.

“The gun community was furious,” Spitzer said.

The ban has been blamed in some circles for the Democrats losing control of Congress in 1994, though subsequent research has shown that the loss was likely more about strong, well-funded conservative candidates and district boundaries, Spitzer said.

Still, after Democrat Al Gore, who supported stricter gun laws, lost to 2000 White House race to Republican George W. Bush, Democrats largely backed off the issue until the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Even after that, it was not a campaign topic until the 2018 midterms.

Now, gun control advocates see progress.

“The fact that the American people elected a president who has long been a vocal and steadfast supporter of bold gun safety laws — and recently reelected a gun sense majority to the Senate — says everything you need to know about how dramatically the politics on this issue have shifted,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Paul Passarelli

    November 25, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    Once again we have the knee-jerk reaction of the sheep that deliberately fail to acknowledge that more prohibitions on law abiding citizens will have no effect on the psychopathic tendencies of criminals.

    • Joe Corsin

      November 25, 2022 at 5:57 pm

      Trump was a narcissistic sociopath. Did you vote for him?

      • Joe Corsin

        November 25, 2022 at 6:20 pm

        I voted for Joe Biden because he inspired me. Just like him, I am also attracted to small children and my brain doesn’t work right anymore. I finally feel represented in office.

        • Joe Corsin

          November 25, 2022 at 6:22 pm

          ☝️This is fake Joe

          This far-right ape has been pretending to be me all day! Very sad!

          • Joe Corsin

            November 25, 2022 at 6:23 pm

            ☝️This is fake Joe

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          • Joe Corsin

            November 25, 2022 at 6:26 pm

            ☝️No, this is fake Joe

            I am the victim of a right-wing harassment campaign by secret far-right agents living in my walls!
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          • Mickey Mouse

            November 25, 2022 at 6:27 pm

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          • Joe Corsin

            November 25, 2022 at 6:29 pm

            ☝️Stay out of this Mickey

            This doesn’t involve you.

        • Elliott Offen

          November 25, 2022 at 7:54 pm

          Obviously you are FAKE TOM! I can tell because your dumbazz posted the same thing three times. Incompetent to work a device equals not competent enough to vote!

          • Elliott Offen

            November 25, 2022 at 8:02 pm

            Stop with your mind games! You have been ruthlessly attacking me and my only friends on this website! Your dumbazz couldn’t even get all your names right. You put your name as Elliott Offen instead of Joe Corsin😂😂

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          • marylou

            November 26, 2022 at 1:26 am

            Elliott sweetie, don’t let him get to you. That’s what he wants. How about we go back to bed and I help you “cool” off?😏

          • Elliott Offen

            November 26, 2022 at 1:29 am

            Mary, my sweet I would love to but I can’t leave my room. I must remain here and FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY! I quit my job and gone into massive debt in order to post on here full time hoping that my voice will reach the nation and they will finally see things my way. Alas, I must forever remain a virgin in order to save the soul of the nation!

          • FAKE TOM

            November 26, 2022 at 1:31 am

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          • Elliott Offen

            November 26, 2022 at 1:43 am

            Who am I? What am I? Why do I go by two names? Why do I call myself Elliott Offen and Joe Corsin. What’s the point of it all? I don’t even like Howard Stern, he’s a hack!

          • Elliott Offen

            November 26, 2022 at 1:46 am

            Stop f*cking me. None of this is true! You’re trying to kill me! The stress this has brought me is bringing strain upon my weak heart. My doctor said I’m in serious danger of a heart attack. If you don’t stop now, I will go to the police and I will press charges!

  • Ocean Joe

    November 25, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    Defending gun ownership and the right to bear arms is one thing, defending ownership of assault weapons makes you one of the NRA’s sheep.

    If only one mass killing is stopped per year, that’s beneficial.
    The predominate common denominators in these killings are young, mixed up people and assault weapons that facilitate their evil.

    Check out your revered Antonin Scalia’s comments on distinguishing between the type of weapons the 2nd Amendment was intended to allow.

    Nobody needs an assault weapon unless they are planning an assault or a member of the US armed forces. The 2nd Amendment was never intended to be a shield to guarantee the antisocial dink the ability to slaughter fellow Americans.

    • Paul Passarelli

      November 25, 2022 at 2:01 pm

      Oh look who is back!

      1) I’m not an NRA member.
      2) Then you should start by banning cars, Big Macs etc…
      3) They are mixed up because their Democrat driven Progressive-Socialist indoctrination has caused cognitive dissonance in their messed up young brains.
      4) Taking Scalia out of context can put *any* words in his mouth.
      5) There is no requirement to demonstrate “need” to a 3rd party to assert a right. You just don’t get it, do you?
      6) You’re correct. The Second Amendment is a *RESTRICTION ON THE GOVERNMENT’s* ability to take away arms from its citizens.

      Again, there are no ‘shields’ unless you also take away knives, cars, trucks, bottles, clubs, swords, gasoline, pointy sticks, bows & arrows, rocks, etc. You gotta be pretty stupid not to recognize that guns are tools. Not only that they are wonderful tools. A gun allows a 5ft 90lb woman to say “No.” to a 6-4 260lb man and be taken seriously. An AR-15 allows the citizenry to tell the Gestapo “No, we won’t get into boxcars.”

      You just don’t get it, do you?

    • Mickey Mouse

      November 25, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      It’s me, Mickey Mouse!

      • Ocean Joe

        November 25, 2022 at 2:07 pm

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        • Mickey Mouse

          November 25, 2022 at 2:08 pm

          Hi, Ocean Joe!

          • Ocean Joe

            November 25, 2022 at 2:09 pm

            Mickey, do you like cats?

          • Mickey Mouse

            November 25, 2022 at 2:11 pm

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            November 25, 2022 at 2:12 pm

            Mickey, are you mad at me?

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          • Ocean Joe

            November 25, 2022 at 2:15 pm

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          • Mickey Mouse

            November 25, 2022 at 2:16 pm


          • Ocean Joe

            November 25, 2022 at 2:17 pm


    • Rich7553

      November 28, 2022 at 12:08 am

      First, 76% of mass shootings are committed using handguns. https://www.statista.com/statistics/476409/mass-shootings-in-the-us-by-weapon-types-used/

      Second, here’s what SCOTUS has said – The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010). I suggest you look up the term ‘prima facie’.

      Finally, no fundamental enumerated right requires a “need” before one may exercise it.

      • Paul Passarelli

        November 28, 2022 at 3:26 pm

        Well said. The email offers a “Like” option, but there doesn’t seem to be able to do that quickly. So you get a positive comment, and I get to irritate my Fake Alias stalkers.

  • samantha albers

    November 25, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    There is no such thing as an assault weapon which is a made up term. Semi automatic guns are not anything but semi automatic. A Glock Z45 can hold 18 rounds and is a handgun. STFU and open mental hospitals and nationwide background checks.

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  • Diana

    November 26, 2022 at 2:54 pm

    then let’s completely tighten the rules for issuing weapons, introduce a license for all types of weapons and allow the use of only hunting

    • Diana

      November 26, 2022 at 3:06 pm

      It is astounding to me that in CURRENT YEAR, murder is still legal. Despite many gun restrictions in many states, people somehow manage to get their hands on guns and commit murders in areas where they’re not supposed to, DISGRACEFUL I SAY! We need congress to pass a bill banning all guns from existence so that way no one is able to commit murder again! I also heard in Canada that 2 guys killed ten people with a knife, this is surely the next steps would-be spree killers would take once all guns de-materialize from existence. Therefore, I am preemptively calling on Joe Biden to require licenses for all knifes and institute common sense knife control. This matter is very important to the safety of our nation!

    • Paul Passarelli

      November 26, 2022 at 4:09 pm

      Let’s not. I have no desire to hunt. I’m not generally a fan of game meats, and I prefer to use stealth rather than surprize when procuring my fruits & vegetables.

      In my universe guns are for *protection* from predators, four legged & two legged, and perhaps in some difficult to imagine myself in scenario, snakes. When I scuba dive or snorkel I carry scissors/shears, because even if I was attacked by a shark, I simply don’t see a harpoon as being that effective, having only one arm to wield it with.

Comments are closed.


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