“How much more carnage are we ready to accept?”, scolded the American president, repeating, during this address to the nation from the White House, to have “enough” of these repeated shootings which mourn America .
Behind his desk were 56 candles representing the victims of these massacres in all American states and territories.
After the shootings at Uvalde Elementary School, a supermarket in Buffalo and Wednesday’s shootings at a hospital in Tulsa, he insisted that “too many everyday places (had) become places of killing, battlefields”.
Joe Biden called for a national ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles, as between 1994 and 2004. But, aware of the difficulty of passing such a measure in Congress, where his party only has a very short majority, he nuanced: “We must at least raise the minimum legal age” to obtain such weapons, from 18 to 21 years old.
He also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines, the strengthening of criminal or psychological background checks on potential buyers and the vote on a text requiring individuals to keep their weapons locked up.
“Over the past 20 years, more schoolchildren have died from gunfire than the total number of police and soldiers who have died on duty,” he said. “Think about it.”
“The second amendment” to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to own a weapon, “is not absolute”, estimated the Democratic president.
“I support the action (…) of a small group of Republican and Democratic senators who are trying to find a way, but my God, the fact that the majority of Republicans in the Senate do not want any of these proposals either even debated or put to the vote, I find that unacceptable”, he lambasted.
“We cannot betray the American people again,” he continued during the 17-minute speech. “It’s time for the Senate to do something.”
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter.
“We have to do something. And we can,” continued this Connecticut elected official who, forever marked by the Sandy Hook shooting (26 dead including 20 children in 2012), leads the discussion group between Republicans and Democrats.
The challenge for this group is to find measures that could obtain the approval of ten Republican senators, essential because of the qualified majority in the Senate.
But in a country where more than 30% of adults own at least one firearm, conservatives strongly oppose any measures that could violate the rights of “law-abiding citizens”.
Discussions in the Senate therefore revolve for the moment around limited proposals, such as background checks on arms buyers, which associations have been calling for for years.
Could the current negotiations in the Senate, however, succeed where all the others, in particular those launched under Barack Obama after the Sandy Hook massacre, have failed?
“There is a growing momentum for us to get something done,” Senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter earlier.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey also expressed his “optimism”.
At the same time, elected officials in the House of Representatives debated Thursday on another major bill which would ban, as requested by Joe Biden, the sale of semi-automatic rifles to those under 21 and that of high-capacity magazines.
These measures, which will be put to a vote in the House next week, have already been called “ineffective”, “ill-considered” and “un-American” by a group of Republicans. It therefore seems impossible that they can be adopted as they stand in the Senate.