Washington – President Joe Biden has said the United States should ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines to tackle the “carnage” of gun violence.
Addressing the nation after a spate of mass shootings, Biden said too many places had become “killing fields”.
He said if a ban was not possible the age limit for buying such weapons should at least go up from 18 to 21.
But deadlock on the issue between Republicans and Democrats in Congress means progress is seen as unlikely.
In order for any laws to pass, Republicans in the Senate need to back them, which is unlikely because they defend access to guns as a constitutional right for every American.
Even if some are privately sympathetic to stricter gun controls, as one analyst suggested to the BBC, they may also fear the electoral consequences of supporting them.
So far the only area of possible bipartisan agreement involves red flag laws, which let authorities take guns from people at high risk of harming themselves or others.
“This is not about taking away anyone’s guns,” said Biden. “This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights . . . . It’s about protecting children.”
“Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines, that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?” the Democratic president continued.
Biden touted a 1994 ban on assault-style weapons that he helped pass. It lapsed after ten years, and debate has raged ever since over whether it was effective in reducing gun violence.
His remarks come in the wake of the deadly shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas last week in which 21 people including 19 children were shot dead.
Buffalo, New York and Tulsa, Oklahoma have also seen mass shootings in recent days.
‘I can do whatever I want with my guns’
Private gun ownership is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
A House of Representatives hearing to debate new gun control proposals earlier in the day showed how hard it might be to make any progress.
Congressman Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, joined the Judiciary Committee hearing from his home via Zoom and displayed several handguns from his personal collection that he said would be banned if the legislation were passed. (BBC)