Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
Ban assault weapons once and for all; we did it before
That was the same plea of parents who lost their children in Uvalde: Do something on gun violence. Thank God we did, passing the most sweeping gun safety law in three decades. Ban assault weapons once and for all. We did it before.
I led the fight to ban them in 1994. In the 10 years the ban was law, mass shootings went down. After Republicans let it expire, mass shootings tripled. Let's finish the job and ban assault weapons again.
Source: 2023 State of the Union speech as prepared for delivery
, Feb 7, 2023
Close loopholes in Federal gun background check system
Gun violence is a public health crisis. Every day, gun violence--community violence, domestic violence, suicides, and mass shootings--takes American lives and forever alters many more. Last year, we saw record levels of homicides in cities throughout
our country. The Federal gun background check system is a proven tool to reduce gun violence and save lives. This system, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, has kept millions of guns out of potentially dangerous hands.
The Administration encourages closing existing loopholes in this system in two bills, H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. The Administration looks forward to working with the
Congress to strengthen the Federal gun background check system and take other commonsense steps to reduce gun violence. [See details of H.R.8 / S.529]
We're not changing the Constitution; we're being reasonable
I don't want to become confrontational but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democratic colleagues, and close the loopholes required in background checks purchases of guns. We need a ban on assault weapons
and high capacity magazines. We're not changing the Constitution. We're being reasonable. I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. I think it's an American issue.
Source: 2021 State of the Union address
, Apr 28, 2021
No bill repealing liability protection for gun manufacturers
PROMISE MADE: "On my first day of office," Biden said in February 2020, "I'm going to send a bill to the Congress repealing the liability protection for gun manufacturers, closing the background check loopholes and waiting period."
PROMISE BROKEN: Biden has not yet sent any gun legislation to Congress. Biden did take six gun-related executive actions on April 8, but those actions did not cover his Day One pledge.
Executive actions do not require the approval of Congress, like legislation does. Executive actions can be overturned by the next President, while bills are more permanent, requiring another act of Congress to overturn. All three issues mentioned by
Biden have strong opposition by the gun industry, but "liability protection" refers to overturning 2005's Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was enacted in 2005 to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from civil litigation.
PROMISE MADE: (2020 campaign website JoeBiden.com): Direct the ATF (the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical
information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.
PROMISE KEPT: (White House press release, "Gun Violence Public Health Epidemic," April 7, 2021): The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms
trafficking. [The previous report in] 2000 summarized information regarding its investigations into firearms trafficking. But there is good reason to believe that firearms trafficking channels have changed since 2000. A new, comprehensive report gives
policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking today.
ANALYSIS: The "change since 2000" is to treat gun violence as a public health epidemic, toward a multi-state settlement as with the tobacco industry.
PROMISE MADE: (2020 campaign website JoeBiden.com): One way people who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D printing a working
firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these so-called "ghost guns" by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check.
PROMISE PARTLY KEPT: (White House press release
4/7/21): The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of "ghost guns." We are experiencing a growing problem: criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components for finishing a firearm within as little
as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes.
ANALYSIS: Executive orders are not legislation and can be reversed by a future president. Biden calls these "initial actions" and supports the Senate passing gun control bills.
I go skeet-shooting, badly, and my sons go bird-hunting
Q: How do you propose to sell your gun reform ideas to those who either own a gun or feel strongly about protecting Second Amendment rights?
BIDEN: I taught constitutional law. No amendment is absolute. None of you can stand up--[despite] the First
Amendment on free speech--and yell "fire" here; you'd be arrested. From the very beginning, the founders said, not everyone is able to have a gun and you can't have any weapon you want. That has simply never been the case. There are limitations.
I happen to have a 12-gauge shotgun and a 20-gauge shotgun, because--I haven't done it in a long time--but I skeet shoot. And I'm not very good at it, I might add. But my sons, they bird hunt. They haven't in a while. The point of the matter
is that from the very beginning you're not allowed to have any weapon you want. This idea that you're going to need an AR-15 or any other assault weapon or you need any clip, any clip that has a hundred rounds in it, is absolutely bizarre.
I pushed Brady Bill when other Dems voted against it
I come from a state that's a major gun owning state. I introduced the first assault weapons ban. I in fact got it passed. I'm the only guy that beat the NRA twice.
While I was pushing the Brady Background Bill to check background checks, Bernie voted five times against that when he was in the House.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH
, Feb 7, 2020
I beat the NRA twice: AR-15s & high-capacity magazines
I'm the only one on this stage who has taken on the NRA and beat them twice. We were able to get assault weapons off the streets for 10 years. The way to deal with AR-15s and assault weapons is to do what we did with machine guns. You must register
that weapon. I'm the only one that moved to make sure that we could not have a magazine that had more than 10 rounds in it. Go after the gun manufacturers and take back the exemption they have of not being able to be sued.
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate
, Oct 15, 2019
I'm the only candidate who beat the NRA with the Brady bill
Q: You have pointed to your ability to reach across the aisle to get things done, but four months after Sandy Hook, a measure to require expanded background checks died on the Senate floor. If you couldn't get it done after Sandy Hook, why
should voters give you another chance?
BIDEN: Because I got it done before. I'm the only one up here that's ever beat the NRA --only one ever to beat the NRA nationally. I'm the guy that brought the Brady bill into-into focus and became law.
Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston
, Sep 12, 2019
I'm the guy who got the Brady Bill passed
Joe Biden: I'm the only person that has beaten the NRA nationally. I'm the guy that got the Brady Bill passed, the background checks. We increased that background check during the Obama-Biden administration. I'm also the only guy that got assault
weapons banned, and the number of clips in a gun banned. Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers.
Rep. Eric Swalwell: But the NRA is taking orders from the gun manufacturers, that's the problem.
Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami)
, Jun 27, 2019
Public supports gun control; Congress has not caught up
What matters the most to Biden these days is whether he can persuade Congress to enact meaningful gun-control laws. After the Sandy Hook shooting, in Newtown CT, Obama asked Biden to head up the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Though his efforts so
far have failed to overcome congressional resistance, he says that he is not giving up.
Q: The background-check measure failed in the Senate, even though it was supported by 90% of the American people. What does it mean that we can't pass even the
weakest measures to curb gun violence?
A: It means two things. One, that we have had an impact on the public's thinking. If we did that poll a week before Sandy Hook, my guess is you wouldn't have 90% of the American people. We've won the battle
with the American public on this, not just on background checks but on magazines, on assault weapons, etc. This is a case where the public is way ahead of Congress. There has been a seminal shift in the attitude of the American public toward gun safety.
Source: Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone Magazine
, May 9, 2013
Moral obligation to diminish senseless gun violence
It's been 33 days since the nation's heart was broken by the horrific, senseless violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. No one can know for certain if this senseless act could have been prevented, but we all know we have a moral
obligation--a moral obligation--to do everything in our power to diminish the prospect that something like this could happen again.
I've worked in this field a long time--in the US Senate, having drafted the last gun violence legislation. I have no
illusions about how hard the task is in front of us. But I also have never seen the nation's conscience so shaken by what happened at Sandy Hook. The world has changed, and it's demanding action.
The President asked me to put together a set of
recommendations about how we should proceed to meet that moral obligation we have. The Cabinet and I sat down with 229 groups from law enforcement agencies to public health officials, to gun advocacy groups, to sportsmen & hunters & religious leaders.
Source: Remarks by the President & Vice President on Gun Violence
, Jan 16, 2013
Keep assault weapons ban; close gun show loophole
Q: How many of you, in your adult lifetime, have had a gun in the house?
[Show of hands]: Senator Gravel, Senator Biden, Senator Dodd, Governor Richardson, Congressman Kucinich.
Q: Sen. Biden, what could the federal government have done to save
those kids at Virginia Tech?
A: What they could have done is three things.
In the so-called Biden crime bill, we put 100,000 cops on the street. I've worked with law enforcement for the past 30 years, with armor-piercing bullets, waiting
periods, etc. But the one thing that's clear: We should not have let the assault weapons ban lapse.
We should close this so-called gun show loophole, so you can't go into a gun show and buy a gun that you couldn't buy walking into a gun shop.
We have let the country down in the way in which we have not focused on mental illness. We should know that your kid is safe at college. If teachers determine that a child is a danger, the school should be able to take them off the campus.
Rated F by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun control voting record.
Biden scores F by NRA on pro-gun rights policies
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America`s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly three million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs.
The following ratings are based on lifetime voting records on gun issues and the results of a questionaire sent to all Congressional candidates; the NRA assigned a letter grade (with A+ being the highest and F being the lowest).