Biden: ‘I haven’t given up’ on assault weapons ban

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has declared that an assault weapons ban has no chance of passing, Vice President Biden says he is not giving up.

U.S. Vice President Biden speaks during a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in Washington
File: Vice President Biden speaks during a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in Washington

 

"I am still pushing that it pass. We are still pushing that it pass," Biden told NPR. "The same thing was told to me when the first assault weapons ban in 1994 was attached to the Biden Crime bill; that it couldn't possibly pass. It was declared dead several times....  And, so, I haven't given up on this."

Biden did help pass an assault weapons ban in 1994, after initially laughing at the idea. But the ban had a 10-year expiration date and so many loopholes that many question its effectiveness.

Although he said he still wants the assault weapon ban, Biden said that if only universal background check legislation survives, "that would be gigantic."

The assault weapons ban never had much of a chance: The White House needs a bipartisan vote in the Senate on some sort of gun legislation, Senate Democrats up for reelection next year want to protect themselves, and Republicans have a majority in the House.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has also pushed back on reports of the ban's demise, saying Tuesday that "we're going to find the votes." But at times the administration has deemphasized the assault weapons ban, and many liberals think the White House is using the ban as a bargaining chip to get background checks through Congress.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · March 20, 2013