Joe Biden Calls for 'Commonsense' Gun Laws that Have 'No Negative Impact' on Second Amendment

“The Second Amendment is not absolute,” the president says. “When it was passed, you couldn’t own a cannon … There’s always been limitations”

Joe Biden
Jill Biden (left), Joe BIden. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty

President Joe Biden continued pushing lawmakers to stand up and act on "commonsense" gun laws in the wake of the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 elementary school students, a teacher and another adult on Tuesday.

"I'm just sick and tired of what's going on and continues to go on," Biden said Wednesday before signing an executive order on policing and public safety.

The White House announced that the president and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Uvalde on Sunday, to meet with victims' and survivors' families. The Bidens hope to "let them know we have a sense — just a sense — of their pain, and hopefully bring some little comfort to the community in shock, in grief, and in trauma."

"As a nation, I think we all must be there for them," he said. "And we must ask: When in God's name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country?"

Biden said throughout his decades as an elected official in Washington, he's been a proponent of "commonsense gun reforms."

A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School
Robb Elementary School. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

While many Republicans have said that tighter restrictions on the sales of firearms would not solve the problem of gun violence in the U.S., pointing to other factors like access to mental health care, Biden disagrees and said that some measures could reduce the number of lives taken by guns.

"While they clearly will not prevent every tragedy, we know certain ones will have significant impact and have no negative impact on the Second Amendment," the president said of potential gun control measures.

"The Second Amendment is not absolute," he continued, referring to the portion of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791, which states in part that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

"When it was passed, you couldn't own a cannon, you couldn't own certain kinds of weapons," Biden said of the Second Amendment. "There's always been limitations.""Actions we've taken before, they saved lives," Biden added. "And they can do it again."

But passing new legislation would require the cooperation from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. The latter, for the most part, are less inclined to act legislatively to change existing gun laws.

UVALDE, TEXAS - MAY 24: People mourn outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement.
Parents comfort each other after Tuesday's massacre. Brandon Bell/Getty

"You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens," Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told CNN after the shooting in his state this week. "That doesn't work. It's not effective. It doesn't prevent crime."

The other Texas senator, Republican John Coryn, agreed. "Restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens is not going to make our communities or our country any safer," he said, according to the AP, on Thursday after GOP senators blocked a bill on domestic terrorism that would have allowed debate on hate crimes and gun safety.

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed similar sentiments on Tuesday.

"People that are shooting people, that are killing kids, they're not following murder laws. They're not going to follow gun laws," Paxton said. I'd much rather have law-abiding citizens armed, trained so they can respond when something like this happens because it's not going to be the last time."

Community members embrace and mourn together at a vigil for the 21 victims in the mass shooting at Rob Elementary School
Mourners at a vigil for the victims. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

In his appeal, Biden again emphasized a commonsense approach to curbing gun violence, citing what's known about the Uvalde shooter and how he acquired a weapon.

"The idea that an 18-year-old can walk into a store and buy weapons of war, designed and marketed to kill, is, I think, just wrong," the president said. "It just violates common sense. Even the manufacturer — the inventor of that weapon thought that as well."

"You know, where is the backbone?" Biden asked. "Where is the courage to stand up to a very powerful lobby?"

The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

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