Republicans and conservatives lambasted President Biden following his primetime address Thursday in which he called for a revived ban on assault weapons and stated that the Second Amendment was “not absolute” as the US struggles to come to grips with a wave of mass shootings.
In a 17-minute speech, the president initially insisted he respected the “culture and the tradition and the concerns” of gun owners before pivoting to a Democratic wish list of firearm control measures.
“We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21,” the president said.
While some Republican members of Congress have expressed a desire to find a compromise on legislation tackling gun violence, Biden’s preferred policies would fail to clear the Senate due to overwhelming opposition from the 50-member GOP conference.
Republicans have repeatedly insisted that the proposals championed by the president and his fellow Democrats are either unconstitutional or would be ineffective in preventing mass shootings, and many of them jumped on Twitter to call out Biden’s remarks Thursday night.
“President Biden had the opportunity tonight to help unite the country,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote. “He didn’t. He lashed out at everyone who doesn’t share his gun control agenda. Then he demanded voters elect more Democrats. His worst speech yet.”
“In the last week, we have seen the President and House Democrats display a complete lack of understanding of firearms and disregard for our rights. The Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens must be defended,” Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) posted.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), another staunch gun rights advocate, called Biden’s remarks “unconstitutional.”
“Joe Biden’s unconstitutional speech on gun control was filled with so many ill-informed Leftist talking points,” the conservative tweeted. “Let me make one thing clear – the Second Amendment IS NOT GOING AWAY!”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) simply wrote: “Shall Not Be Infringed!,” a reference to the text of the Second Amendment, which reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
“Joe Biden wants to ban ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ yet Democrats refuse to prosecute violent crimes in Democrat cities all over the country, and refuse to protect your children at school with armed security. Same Democrats are protected by armed guards daily,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) claimed in a post.
During a Thursday appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tore into Biden and accused him of seeking to disarm “law-abiding citizens.”
“This speech tonight, once again he chose to double down on hard-left, divisive politics,” Cruz said. “Listen, I was at Uvalde last week, the day after the shooting. I was there with the local officials and with law enforcement and with family members. What happened in Texas is horrific.
“And anyone with any heartbeat is horrified that 19 little boys and girls were murdered, that two teachers were murdered,” Cruz added. “And what does Joe Biden and the Democrats do? They don’t come back and say, ‘Let’s unite behind law enforcement to stop criminals, to keep our kids safe.’ Nope. They immediately demagogue and say the solution is to take away your weapons, to disarm law-abiding citizens.”
Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk echoed that message on Twitter, writing: “The lines were just drawn from The White House. Biden is coming for our guns. Time to get to work. Gook luck, Joe.”
Senators from both parties are locked in negotiations over legislation meant to address a surge in gun crime. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that if an agreement is not reached by next week, he will hold show votes on two House-passed bills meant to expand background checks on would-be gun buyers.
Both those bills will fail to achieve the required 60 votes to advance in the Senate due to Republican opposition.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill along party lines that would raise the legal age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 as well as outlaw the manufacture or possession of large-capacity magazines.
If and when that bill passes the House, it will fail in the Senate as well.