Biden, Bloomberg join Newtown families in call to ban assault rifles
Joining forces on their fight against assault weapons, Mayor Michael Bloom-berg teamed up with Vice President Joe Biden at City Hall on Thursday to urge Congress to act.
Biden and Bloomberg, who were joined by relatives of victims of the Newtown, Conn. massacre, said there is no reason that Washington leaders had to remove provisions from President Barack Obama's gun control legislative package that would make assault weapons and large magazines illegal.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during negotiations over the package Democrats had to remove those proposed bans so other parts of the legislation, such as universal background checks, could survive.
In a impassioned speech, Biden -- who was the first sitting veep to visit City Hall in 30 years -- said the Senate's decision was unacceptable.
"For all of those who say we shouldn't ban high capacity magazines . . . Think about Newtown," he said while pointing at the host of cameras in the room.
Biden reiterated that none of the president's proposals would infringe on Second Amendment rights and would only keep Americans safer. There was no reason suspected Newtown shooter Adam Lanza should have had the access to an assault rifle and ammo that was used to kill 20 children and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, the vice president said.
"That weapon of war does not belong on the streets of America," he said.
Bloomberg, who is the co-chair of the Mayors against Illegal Guns coalition, agreed and said gun control was needed now more than ever.
More than 3,000 people were killed by guns in the U.S. since Newtown shooting, the mayor said.
Bloomberg said he and sensible voters will remember the congressmen who approved gun control come election season.
"If you stand up and try to prevent this from happening again I will support you. If you do not, I will support the candidate running against you, regardless of what party," said the mayor, who's registered as an independent.
Bloomberg helped fund anti-gun candidate Robin Kelly, who won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Illinois.
Chris and Lynn McDonnell, the parents of 7-year-old Grace who was killed at Sandy Hook, said the leaders need to remove politics from the debate and rely on common sense thinking.
Lynn McDonnell said she was hopeful that congress members would change their minds about the ban if they listen about the struggles that she and other relatives who lost loved ones to guns have to deal with.
"We ask you to gain a new perspective by thinking about the unthinkable," she said.
Biden -- whose first wife and 18-month old daughter, Amy, died in a car accident in 1972, praised the families for speaking out against gun violence.
"It takes an enormous amount of courage," he said. "Having lost a child, I understand that every time you show up and something brings [a loss] up . . . it comes back in a flash as if you got that phone call yesterday."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines would be removed from the Senate version of the President’s gun control bill. Here are some of the provisions that remain in the bill:
-Universal background checks for all gun purchases.
-Making gun straw buying illegal.
-Banning armor piercing ammunition