President Joe Biden will deliver an evening address to the nation on Thursday night about the recent mass shootings, stressing the urgent need for Congress to pass gun restrictions he argues can help curb them.
In an announcement, the White House said Biden will speak at 7:30 EDT about the “tragic mass shootings, and the need for Congress to act to pass commonsense laws to combat the epidemic of gun violence that is taking lives every day.”
The speech follows last week’s shootings by an 18-year-old gunman, who killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, as well as one Wednesday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman shot and killed four people and himself at a medical office.
And in Buffalo, New York, a white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket, killing 10 people and wounding three others on May 14 in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”
Biden has used national speeches in the past to speak about the coronavirus pandemic and the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. But the president has used such addresses sparingly during his nearly 18 months in office.
Before marking Memorial Day on Monday, Biden told reporters at the White House that there may be some bipartisan support to tighten restrictions on the kind of high-powered weapons used by the gunman in Uvalde. But he also noted that, while he had taken some steps via executive actions, he didn’t have the power as president to “outlaw a weapon.”
“The Second Amendment was never absolute,” Biden said then. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn’t go out and buy a lot of weapons.”
He also said that “things have gotten so bad that everybody’s getting more rational, at least that’s my hope,” adding, “There’s realization on the part of rational Republicans” who realize ”we can’t keep repeating ourselves — and that was before to the Tulsa shootings.
Visiting Uvalde on Sunday, Biden mourned privately for three-plus hours with anguished families. Faced with chants of “do something” as he departed a church service, the president pledged: “We will.”
Lawmakers from both parties have been negotiating small steps on gun limits since shortly after the Uvalde shooting, and the House is planning to move forward with a vote on an assault weapons ban that likely wouldn’t pass the Senate.