Fresh off a visit to the Texas elementary school where a gunman last week killed 19 children and two teachers, President Joe Biden said there are limits to what he can do as he renewed calls for Congress to crack down on the kinds of assault weapons that were used to carry out the mass shooting.
“I can’t dictate this stuff,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “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.”
The mass shooting by an 18-year-old in Uvalde, Texas, last week has increased demands on Washington lawmakers to clamp down. Since the attack, gun-regulation talks in the US Senate have centered on so-called red-flag laws, which empower family members or police officers to ask a court to temporarily remove the right to own firearms from people exhibiting violent behavior.
Democrats signaled they would accept limited progress in exchange for some action that would reduce gun deaths. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tapped Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican, to work on a GOP compromise.
On Monday, Biden said that he considered McConnell and Cornyn to be “rational” Republicans, though he isn’t yet negotiating with anyone in the GOP. He added that the US constitutional protection for baring firearms “was never absolute” and that “you couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment” became law.