Former Vice President Joe Biden penned a New York Times op-ed published Sunday that explained his support for a new assault weapons ban.

The 76-year-old former V.P., who is also the clear front-runner among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, cited several historical examples of firearm regulations in the last 25 years that have been effective in reducing gun violence. Biden’s opinion piece comes in the wake of two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas earlier this month where assault-style rifles were used.

In his op-ed, Biden also criticized President Donald Trump, the GOP and the gun lobby — including the National Rifle Association — for blaming video games and mental illness for mass shootings despite no evidence showing any kind of direct relationship between these two issues and gun violence. The former vice president also slammed Trump for using white nationalist rhetoric, something the El Paso shooter utilized in his manifesto while directly citing the president.

“Republican leaders try to prevent action and parrot N.R.A. messaging — as Donald Trump did last week when he said, ‘Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,'” Biden wrote.


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He continued: “This is the same president who during his first year in office repealed a rule President Barack Obama and I put in place to help keep guns out of the hands of people with certain mental illnesses. This is the same president who said after Charlottesville that there were “very fine people on both sides,” and who continues to fan the flames of hate and white supremacy. We can’t trust his diagnosis.”

Biden went on to explain how a law he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) spearheaded in 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, made the United States “demonstrably more secure” by prohibiting the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic rifles and other assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines for 10 years. The bill was a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton after Congress approved it with a 52-48 vote in the Senate. In 1993, Biden also helped push in Congress the Brady Bill, which set up the current background check system.  At the time, Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Biden called the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban “the last meaningful gun legislation we were able get signed into law before the N.R.A. and the gun manufacturers put the Republican Party in a headlock.” He also said he “fought hard” to prolong this law past its expiration date in 2004 and blamed the GOP for not extending it because they believe such regulations would be “ineffective” in curbing gun violence.

The former vice president also noted that several studies conducted since 2004 have shown that assault weapons bans are effective, as these analyses have pointed out that nearly all of the largest mass shootings in the country — like the October 2017 massacre at a Las Vegas music festival, where 58 people were killed, a tragedy that broke the record for the largest mass shooting in American history — have occurred in the last 15 years. Contrarily, there were significantly less deaths and injuries due to shootings during the 10-year period between 1994 and 2004.

Biden also cited a Morning Consult-Politico poll published last week that showed 70 percent of American voters — including 54 percent of Republicans — support an assault weapons ban before proposing solutions related to technological firearm advances.

“I’ll accelerate the development and deployment of smart-gun technology — something gun manufacturers have opposed — so that guns are keyed to the individual biometrics of authorized owners,” Biden added.

“It’s unacceptable that children learn to fear mass shooters alongside their ABCs, that people feel unsafe on their weekly grocery run, and that families everywhere experience increasing anxiety that they are simply not safe anywhere in the United States,” Biden said at the conclusion of his op-ed.

Since this month’s two mass shootings, the conversation surrounding the implementation of red flag laws has been revived. These types of laws allow allow law enforcement to petition a state court to issue an order preventing someone who may be a danger to themselves or to others from obtaining access to a firearm.


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