- President Biden said Sen. McConnell is “rational” on gun control after the Texas school shooting.
- Biden called on Congress to pass restrictions on assault weapons following the attack in Uvalde.
- McConnell and other Republicans have a decades-long history of opposing gun control measures.
President Joe Biden insisted Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is “rational” and could agree to gun control, despite the party’s longtime refusal to seriously entertain policy changes on firearms.
On Monday, Biden told reporters that he was unsure of whether Republicans would compromise, noting that he has “not been negotiating with any of the Republicans yet.”
“I don’t know. McConnell is a rational Republican. Cornyn is as well,” Biden said. “I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it.”
He added that only Congress can pass gun control measures, denying that he has the ability to implement widespread gun reform through executive action. On a visit to Uvalde over the weekend, demonstrators begged the president to “do something” about gun violence.
“I can’t dictate this stuff. I can do the things I’ve done and any executive action I can take, I’ll continue to take. But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t change a background check. I can’t do that,” he said.
Biden called on Congress to pass restrictions on assault weapons last week following the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 people dead after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on a classroom of fourth-graders.
McConnell signaled his willingness for Republican senators to work with Democrats on a bipartisan push for gun safety legislation, but he did not endorse any specific proposals.
Last week, McConnell said he had “encouraged” Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, to talk to key Democrats “who are interested in trying to get an outcome that’s directly related to the problem.”
But the Senate Minority Leader has spent decades in Congress discouraging his peers from supporting gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings and refused to bring gun control bills to a vote despite more deadly mass shootings when Republicans controlled the Senate, The Washington Post reported.
The appeal to Republicans to compromise is the latest push by Biden to seek the GOP’s help in passing legislation; previous efforts have been met with little success as rank-and-file Republicans and party leadership have shot down many of Biden’s legislative priorities.
In April, Biden announced a series of executive actions targeting gun violence, including tackling “ghost guns,” drafting model “red flag” laws, and a firearms-trafficking report.
On Monday, Biden said there’s no “rational basis” for weapons with 100-round magazines, according to The Hill.
“There’s only one reason for something that can fire 100 shots,” Biden said. “The Constitution, the Second Amendment was never absolute. You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed.”