Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press assistant, dodged a query Wednesday about whether President Biden’s planned “assault weapons” prohibition will result in the confiscation of millions of semi-automatic rifles from law-abiding Americans.
After a 28-year-old transgender former student allegedly gunned down three 9-year-olds and three adults at a Christian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, Biden renewed his call for an “assault weapons” ban, claiming there is a “moral price to pay for inaction” by Republican lawmakers who oppose such a measure.
Jean-Pierre was asked during her daily press briefing whether the president supported “not just banning the sale and the manufacture of semi-automatic weapons, but further than that, confiscation.”
“Let me just be very clear,” the press secretary responded. “What we’re talking about, AR15s, this assault weapons ban, they are weapons of war, and they are not on the streets across the country in our communities. They should not be in schools. They should not be in grocery stores. They should not be in churches. That’s what the president believes, and he has done more than any other president the first two years on the executive order.”
“As you know, we all know how government works,” Jean-Pierre continued. “There’s only so much that he can do. And so now it’s time for Congress to do the work. And he’s happy to sign, once that happens, he’s happy to sign that legislation that says, ‘OK, we’re going to remove assault weapons — we’re going have an assault weapons ban.”
A moment earlier, the same reporter had asked the press secretary for the president’s response to some Republicans who argue that there are “25 million of these devices out there in circulation in the homes of millions of Americans and therefore, you can’t ban them.”
“That’s unacceptable,” Jean-Pierre fired back. “That’s our responsibility. It’s unacceptable that Republicans are saying that there’s nothing that we can do. Our schools, our churches, and our places of worship have now become deadly places for many Americans who have lost their lives. Just this past year.”
“I ask Republicans, what are you going to say to the families in Nashville at this elementary school who lost their loved ones?” she asked. “That there’s nothing else that we can do?”
“The reason that there’s no assault weapons ban is not because of this president. It’s not because of Democrats in Congress,” Jean-Pierre added. “Republicans in Congress need to look in the mirror.”
Since the killing on Monday, the White House has blamed Republicans for a lack of action on gun regulation. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., slammed Jean-Pierre for blaming Republicans the day after the killing, calling it “shameful.”
“It doesn’t get much lower than blaming Republicans in Congress for a transgender killer who targeted a Christian school. Shameful,” Cotton wrote.
It doesn't get much lower than blaming Republicans in Congress for a transgender killer who targeted a Christian school.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 28, 2023
Karine Jean-Pierre doubled down on blaming Republicans during Wednesday’s briefing, saying, “Republicans in Congress need to show some courage.”
“If they had courage, they would be introducing legislation on banning assault weapons today. That’s what they would be doing today,” she said. “They refuse to show some courage and do anything about it. And that’s shameful.”