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President Joe Biden delivered a plea for action on gun violence following a string of mass shootings in the United States.
“There are too many other schools, too many other everyday places that have become killing places, battlefields here in America,” Mr Biden said from the White House.
The president called for the minimum age of purchase for firearms to be raised from 18 to 21 years old.
“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden asked. “Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference,” he said.
“This time we have to take the time to do something,” Biden said, calling out the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to pass legislation.
“I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up, and if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either,” he added. “I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.”
He referenced data from the Centers for Disease Control that shows “guns are the number one killer of children in the United States” ahead of car crashes.
“Over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military — combined,” he said.
Biden insisted his appeal wasn’t about “vilifying gun owners” or “taking away anybody’s guns.”
“We should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave,” Biden said. “This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights, it’s about protecting children, it’s about protecting families.”
He called on Congress to end “outrageous” protections for gun manufacturers, which severely limit their liability over how their firearms are used, comparing it to the tobacco industry, which has faced repeated litigation over its products’ role in causing cancer and other diseases.
“Imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued, where we’d be today,” Biden said.
Earlier on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the Oklahoma shooting, saying, “All of us hold the people of Tulsa in our hearts, but we also reaffirm our commitment to passing commonsense gun safety laws.”
“No more excuses. Thoughts and prayers are important, but not enough,” Harris said. “We need Congress to act.”