Biden Vows To Keep Up Pressure For Gun Reform As Congressional Action Remains Doubtful

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 30: President Joe Biden speaks to the media on the south lawn of the White House on May 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden spent the weekend in Delaware and tra... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 30: President Joe Biden speaks to the media on the south lawn of the White House on May 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden spent the weekend in Delaware and traveled to Uvalde, Texas to mourn with victims of the deadly school shooting. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) MORE LESS

President Joe Biden told reporters Monday that “the Second Amendment was never absolute,” and that he’ll “continue to push” for gun reform upon his return to Washington D.C. 

On Sunday, he and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Uvalde, Texas to honor the 21 people shot and killed at Robb Elementary School last week.

While Biden said that he doesn’t need convincing to tighten up gun restrictions — “I’ve been motivated all along,” he told reporters — he said that his power, unlike that of Congress, is somewhat limited. 

“I can’t dictate this stuff,” he said, per the White House pool. “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.”

Congress is responding how it usually does to the mass shootings horrific enough to still rate attention: Republicans are pointing to everything but gun reform as the answer, while Democrats are calling for gun control. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — a “rational Republican,” along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), per Biden — has been tapped by McConnell to negotiate with Democrats on gun control regulation. 

Those efforts, like those after other high profile shootings, are unlikely to go anywhere. Republicans have increasingly embraced a position of support for unfettered access to guns, and the filibuster ensures that any small defection would still fall short of the 60 votes needed. 

The Senate left Thursday for Memorial Day recess, and is not due back until June 6.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the only two Democrats who support maintaining the filibuster in its current state, reiterated support for the Senate rule after the shooting. 

“You know, I don’t think that D.C. solutions are realistic here,” Sinema said last week of reforming the filibuster to pass gun reform legislation. “But there are things that we can do. There’s some shared agreement on red flag, which I think might be a place to start conversations to actually get something done for real that would make a difference to people.” 

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