Two months after Congress blocked the expansion of gun sale background checks — on what President Barack Obama denounced as “a shameful day for Washington” — Vice President Joe Biden insisted that “we have not given up” on passing new laws to reduce gun violence in America.
Speaking from the White House, Biden reported that the administration has made significant progress on gun reform. Specifically, he noted that 21 of the 23 executive orders aimed at reducing gun violence that President Obama signed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting “have been completed, or there has been major progress made towards their total completion.” The vice president singled out executive orders strengthening the existing background check system, providing schools with updated emergency management plans, and easing restrictions on the Centers for Disease Control’s research as major steps forward.
“The president and I are a team, we have not given up,” Biden insisted. “Our friends in the House and Senate, they have not given up.”
Still, Biden acknowledged that these unilateral actions won’t be enough.
“We need Congress to act. The American people are demanding it,” Biden said. “We need to make sure that the voices of the ones we lost are the loudest ones we hear in this fight.”
After slamming the “perverted filibuster rule requiring 60 votes in the Senate” for killing the background check bill, Biden predicted that some senators would reconsider their positions in the face of public pressure. Without directly naming them, Biden pointed to senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), and others whose approval ratings have plunged since voting to oppose background checks.
“I know for a fact some of them wonder now if that was a prudent vote,” Biden said.
“The country has changed,” the vice president added. “You will pay a price, a political price, for not getting engaged and dealing with gun safety.”
Biden has often served as the face of the Obama administration’s gun reform push; the vice president led the task force that recommended the executive orders to President Obama, and has given several high-profile speeches attempting to move the issue forward.
Vice President Biden’s full speech can be seen here.