NEW YORK—Vice President Joe Biden joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the pulpit in City Hall on Thursday, March 21, sternly reiterating that the package of proposed gun laws awaiting Congress was constitutional and urging Americans to press their legislators for change.
The proposals, which have been hotly debated for months, include requiring a background check on all gun sales and limiting the magazine size to 10 rounds. Reinstating an assault weapons ban had been a part of the bill, however, Democrats dropped the assault weapons ban from the legislation this week.
Opponents of the latest package of gun control reform have argued the laws would overstep Americans’ right to bear arms, which is protected by the Constitution. Some critics fear the background checks will open the door to a national gun registry.
“Let’s get this straight,” the vice president said. “There is not one single thing. Not one, not one, not one that infringes upon anyone’s Second Amendment constitutional right. Not one.”
The mayor and vice president was joined by several family members of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down by a man carrying an assault weapon on Dec. 14.
“That weapon of war has no place on American streets. Taking it off of American streets has no impact on one’s constitutional right to own a weapon,” Biden said.
He cited Supreme Court Justice Scalia, in his 2008 decision, saying the government has the right to limit certain weapons from being possessed by American citizens.
Bloomberg, who has rallied for stricter gun control laws in recent years, urged Americans to press their federal representatives for change.
“Everyone is going to have to stand up and say yea or nay and then the rest of us have to decide just how we feel about people and their stance,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said Americans should call their Congressperson or Senator and have their voice heard, urged proponents of the bill to vote against anyone voting against the package, regardless of name, reputation, or party affiliation. “That is the only way you will make a difference here. Congress just has to get some courage and it is up to us as Americans, and as fellow human beings to give them that courage.”
Neil Heslin, whose 6-year old son Jesse Lewis was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, spoke at City Hall. “I ask everybody to stand up and speak out and Congress to step up and make a change,” Heslin said, appearing emotional. “I am ashamed to see Congress doesn’t have the guts to stand up and make a change and put a ban on these types of weapons,” Heslin said.
Biden said, “It must be awful being in public office and concluding that, even though you might believe you should take action, that you can’t take action because of the political consequence you face,” the vice president said. “What a heck of a way to make a living.”
The Senate will debate the bill next month, however it will not contain the assault weapons ban. The House will take up the bill after it passes the Senate.