President Joe Biden offered more of his thoughts on gun control on Monday, expressing concern to reporters at the White House about the lethality of modern weapons.
“The Constitution, the Second Amendment, was never absolute. You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed,” Biden said.
The president and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to attend a wreath-laying ceremony for Memorial Day on Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, and to meet with families of service members who have died.
Biden addressed questions by reporters on gun control after the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last week that killed 19 children and two teachers. The Bidens visited the community on Sunday and grieved with the families. As people chanted “do something” as they were leaving a church, Biden said: “We will.”
When asked for more details on Monday, Biden talked about visiting a trauma center in New York and seeing the damage caused by modern weapons.
“A 9 mm bullet blows the lung out of the body,” the president said. “There’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting.”
While he hasn’t started negotiating with Republicans yet on any changes, he observed: “I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it.”
He then named Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) as possible “rational” Republicans in efforts to seek compromise on legislation.
Biden acknowledged that his ability to take action with executive orders is limited. “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,” he said.
Biden has been a part of various efforts to control gun violence over the years. He was involved with the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. He was also part of the failure to pass new legislation after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, which left 26 people dead.
McConnell has tasked Cornyn, who tweeted a defense of police personnel who were slow to respond to the Uvalde shooting, with beginning discussions with Democrats to find a consensus on gun legislation.
Both senators are among the top five congressional recipients of funds from pro-gun groups, according to OpenSecrets.org.