Joe Biden reiterated his calls on Thursday to ban assault weapons after mass shootings at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday and a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Tuesday left 11 people dead.
While visiting a firehouse on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, to thank first responders on Thanksgiving, Biden told reporters he would attempt to pass some form of gun control before a new Congress is seated in January, possibly renewing his attempt to ban assault weapons.
“The idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value, zero, none. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profits for gun manufacturers,” Biden said.
“I’m going to try. I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons,” Biden said.
The shootings in Colorado Springs and Chesapeake are just two of the more than 600 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, using the definition of four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter.
Other mass shootings occurred throughout the country over the past week. On Sunday, four people in Oklahoma were gunned down at a marijuana farm. Meanwhile, a mother and her three kids were killed in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday.
The president’s efforts to ban assault weapons will get even more difficult next year with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives.
In July, the Democratic-controlled House passed an assault weapons ban but it was doomed in the Senate.
The last time the legislature passed an assault weapons ban was in 1994. A 2019 study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery showed the number of mass shooting deaths declined while the law, which expired in 2004, was in effect.
Biden on Thursday called the two owners of the Colorado Springs nightspot Club Q, Nic Grzecka and Matthew Haynes, to offer condolences after the attack on their venue and thank them for their contributions to the community, the White House said.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Grzecka said that the tragedy at his nightclub came amid a new “type of hate”.
“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand and getting spit at [as opposed to] a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children,” Grzecka said. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today.”
Earlier this year, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill barring teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with younger students. A month later, references online to “pedophiles” and “grooming” in relation to LGBTQ+people rose 400%, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign.
“Lying about our community, and making them into something they are not, creates a different type of hate,” said Grzecka.
Biden also addressed the mass shooting in Chesapeake, where a Walmart supervisor gunned down six co-workers on Tuesday before turning the gun on himself.
“Because of yet another horrific and senseless act of violence, there are now even more tables across the country that will have empty seats this Thanksgiving,” he said.
A witness has since said that the Walmart gunman appeared to target specific people.
Jessica Wilczewski told the Associated Press that workers had gathered in a store break room to begin their overnight shift late on Tuesday when the team leader Andre Bing entered and opened fire with a handgun. While another witness has described Bing as shooting wildly, Wilczewski said that she observed him targeting certain people.
“The way he was acting, he was going hunting,” Wilczewski told the Associated Press on Thursday. “The way he was looking at people’s faces and the way he did what he did, he was picking people out.”