The United States, US, President Joe Biden has called for a US ban on assault weapons, after the country’s second mass shooting in a week, which left 10 people dead in Colorado and sparked urgent new calls for gun control.
In an address, Mr Biden said he did not “need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.”
“We can ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in this country once again,” said Biden, recalling that Congress previously overcame its divisions to pass a 10-year ban on such weapons back in 1994.
“This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives. American lives. And we have to act.”
Tighter gun control is overwhelmingly popular with Americans — but Republicans have long stood against what some view as any infringement on their right to bear arms.
Mr Biden spoke in Washington hours after a 21-year-old man was charged with shooting 10 people in a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.
That massacre came less than a week after another gunman shot dead eight people at multiple spas in the Georgia state capital Atlanta.
Together the killings ignited new calls for politicians to act — but on Tuesday the familiar bipartisan divide was emerging once more.
– ‘Cowardly politicians’ –
This month the House of Representatives passed two measures aimed at enhancing background checks and closing a loophole related to a deadly 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
The bills address a popular premise among American voters: that background checks be required for all US firearm sales, including those at gun shows.
Nevertheless majority Senate leader Chuck Schumer said he had committed to bringing background checks to the floor. “This Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” he said Tuesday.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the White House was “considering a range of levers, including working through legislation, including executive actions.”
Former president Barack Obama said in a statement that “we should be able to buy groceries without fear … But in America, we can’t.”
It is “long past time” to act, he added, urging lawmakers to “overcome opposition by cowardly politicians” and powerful gun lobbyists.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first of a series of hearings to examine proposals to reduce gun violence.
– Murder counts –
The Colorado suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was in hospital after being shot in an exchange of fire with officers during the Monday afternoon attack on King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of state capital Denver.
“He is charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and will be shortly transported to Boulder county jail,” Police Chief Maris Herold told a press conference.