Speaking following a spate of gun violence over the July 4 weekend, including a massacre in Highland Park, Illinois, Vice President Kamala Harris called for the renewal of the assault weapons ban.
Per NPR, the remarks came when the vice president happened to be in Chicago, speaking to a teachers’ convention.
“This can happen anywhere, in any peace-loving community, and we should stand together and speak out about why it’s got to stop,” Harris said.
“Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban,” Harris added. “An assault weapon is designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly … there is no reason we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws,” she continued.
Assault weapons were banned in 1994 as part of the Biden-authored Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as the “1994 Crime Bill.” However, that ban had a sunset provision that led to its expiration in 2004, and it has not been renewed since.
“I again called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, stronger background checks, and a host of other common sense measures to protect our fellow Americans,” the president said.
So does that mean a national assault weapons ban is on the way? Almost certainly not.
Last month, following the Uvalde massacre in Texas, Biden signed a gun safety package that had been negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators and passed both houses of Congress.
While the bill included several provisions favored by the administration, including the expansion of “red flag’ laws, it did not ban any particular class of weapons. It is very unlikely that any such ban would have the votes to pass in the current Congress.
Furthermore, as there are many more guns in the United States now than there were at the time of the original passage of that ban in 1994, eliminating them would be a logistical impossibility, even beyond questions of political will.
“Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?” the president said after the Uvalde shooting, per the Washington Post. But, as an analysis by the Post found, the passage of another assault weapons ban is “improbable.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.