President Joe Biden again called for a federal ban on assault weapons on Monday during an event commemorating the ratification of other new gun control measures. He also declared that the U.S. is “awash with weapons of war.”
During an event at the White House celebrating Biden’s signing last month of the “Safer Communities Act” — which includes enhanced background checks for gun purchasers under 21 years old and incentives for states to pass so-called”red flag” gun confiscation orders — Biden said he’s determined to implement a so-called assault weapons ban like the one Congress passed in 1994, which expired in 2004. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban prohibited many types of semiautomatic rifles, pistols and shotguns.
Biden had made repeated calls for bans on assault weapons and his comments on Monday indicate he is still seeking such bans even after passing these other gun control measures. After passing the Safer Communities Act last month, Biden said he didn’t get “everything” he wanted, but that the measures he did enact would move gun control in the direction he wants.
Biden said on Monday that “the takeaway” of the passage of the Safer Communities Act “is that now, now we’re opening to get much more done.”
“We are living in a country awash in weapons of war,” Biden said minutes later. “Weapons that are designed to hunt are not being used, the weapons design that they are purchasing are designed as weapons of war, to take out an enemy. What is the rationale for these weapons outside war zones? Some people claim it’s for sport or to hunt, but let’s look at the facts.”
Biden then said “the most common rounds” fired from an AR-15 travel almost twice as fast as rounds fired from a handgun. The .223 round commonly fired from an AR-15 style rifle has a muzzle velocity of approximately 3,200 feet per second. A 9mm round fired from a handgun like the Glock 18 has a muzzle velocity of around 1,100 feet per second. A hunting rifle firing a round like the .300 Winchester Magnum can get a muzzle velocity of around 3,200 feet per second, though the mass of the bullet fired from a .300 Win Mag is about three times that of a 5.56.
“Coupled with smaller, lighter bullets, these weapons maximize the damage done,” Biden said. “And Human flesh and bone is just torn apart and as difficult as it is to say, that’s why so many people and so many in this audience – and I apologize for having to say it – need to provide DNA samples to identify the remains of their children. Think of that. It’s why trauma surgeons trained for years for these moments, know it’s unlikely someone shot with a high-powered assault weapon will make it long enough for the ambulance to get them to the hospital.”
“Yet we continue to let these weapons be sold to people with no training or expertise,” Biden said.
Biden then noted that U.S. military service members are trained to handle firearms, yet civilians aren’t.
“We don’t require the same common-sense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR15 or some weapon like that,” Biden said. “It makes no sense.”
“Assault weapons need to be banned. They were banned. I led the fight in 1994,” Biden added, referring to the expired Assault Weapons Ban.
“In that 10 years, it was long, mass shootings went down, and when the law expired in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled, they’re the facts,” Biden said.
According to the fact-checking resource PolitiFact, the number of mass shooting deaths decreased slightly from before the 1994 ban went into effect until it expired and then tripled in the decade after the ban expired. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban grandfathered the ownership and transfer of otherwise banned weapons that were lawfully owned before the law went into effect. PolitiFact noted millions of otherwise-banned weapons remained in circulation in the U.S. between 1994 and 2004. According to Pew Research, the rate of gun deaths in the U.S. in 2020 had returned to about the same height it had been at its peak in the 1990s, but has not returned to the high point seen in 1994.
“I’m determined to ban these weapons again, and high-capacity magazines that hold 30 rounds” Biden said.
“And I’m not going to stop until we do it,” he said.