US Vice President Kamala Harris has called for a ban on assault weapons in the wake of two fatal mass shootings in the United States.
Harris made the comments while attending the funeral of Ruth Whitfield, 86, who was killed in a supermarket shooting on May 14.
A few days ago, another attack occurred on an elementary school in Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.
Recalling these and other attacks, Harris said it was time to say “stop” to gun violence.
“Everyone should stand up and agree that this should not happen in our country and have the courage to do something about it,” she told the crowds of mourners at the funeral.
She added that the solution is clear – and includes things like background checks on those who buy weapons and a ban on such offensive weapons.
“Do you know what an offensive weapon is?” asked Harris. “It was designed for a specific purpose: to kill a lot of people quickly. An offensive weapon is a weapon of war, it has no place, it has no place in civil society.”
The Tuesday school shooter in Ovaldi was an 18-year-old with two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, which he reportedly bought shortly after his birthday.
After he was shot dead, the police found 1,657 rounds and 60 combs of ammunition in his possession.
While the shop shooter was 18 years old and known to the authorities, no warnings emerged about him when he legally purchased his own AR-15.
“Why should anyone be able to buy a weapon with which they can kill other people without at least knowing: Has this person ever committed a violent crime? Is he a threat to himself or others? This is an order,” Harris said in her remarks on Saturday. Very reasonable.”
However, attempts to conduct public scrutiny of people buying weapons and ban assault weapons have met with many obstacles. The issue is divisive in the United States, where nearly all Democrats support stronger controls on gun purchases, compared to just 24 percent of Republicans.
The National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group, uses its large privileges to influence members of Congress over gun policy.
On Friday, former Republican President Donald Trump called not for tighter gun controls, but for stronger school security.
Speaking at the association meeting, he said decent Americans should be allowed to use firearms to defend themselves against “evil”.
On the same day, investigations revealed that the police did not enter the classroom in the Texas incident, due to the active shooting inside.
Instead – when the children called emergency services begging for help – the police waited 40 minutes, a decision the police have now admitted was “wrong”.
US President Joe Biden is expected to make a private appeal for tighter gun controls during a visit to Ovaldi, where the attack took place. On Saturday, he urged Americans to “make their voices heard” against gun violence.
The delicate balance Biden needs
The BBC’s Will Grant from Uvaldi says President Biden is facing a challenge in striking the right balance in Uvaldi. In the first place, he will be there to offer his condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims.
However, some relatives of the victims are in mourning and do not want to see him, or any politician, amid fears that their grief could influence and overshadow the broader political debate around gun control.
Before traveling to Ovaldi, Biden told students in Delaware that it was still possible to “make America safer” but as he seeks bipartisan support for tougher gun regulations, he is in direct conflict with top Republicans who blame the problem on Security and mental health issues in schools, not guns.
As such, meaningful bipartisan cooperation seems unlikely. However, such questions may be paused for a few hours in Ovaldi as the president mourns the 21 victims of one of the worst school shootings in US history.