"You couldn't buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn't go out and buy a lot of weapons," says President Biden, hoping to see some bipartisan support over gun culture in US.
President Joe Biden has said that the "Second Amendment was never absolute" and that, after the Texas elementary school massacre, there may be some bipartisan support to tighten restrictions on the kind of high-powered weapons used by the gunman.
"I think things have gotten so bad that everybody's getting more rational, at least that's my hope," Biden told reporters on Monday before honouring the nation's fallen in Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.
His comments came a day after he travelled to the shattered Texas community of Uvalde, mourning privately for three-plus hours with anguished families grieving for the 19 children and two teachers who died in the shooting. Faced with chants of "do something" as he departed a church service, Biden pledged: "We will."
After the Uvalde trip, Biden spent Sunday night at his home in Delaware. As he arrived at the White House for Memorial Day events, he was asked if he's now more motivated to see new federal limits imposed on firearms.
"I've been pretty motivated all along," he said. "I’m going to continue to push and we'll see how this goes."
'I can't outlaw a weapon'
In Congress, a bipartisan group of senators talked over the weekend to see if they could reach even a modest compromise on gun legislation after a decade of mostly failed efforts. That included encouraging state "red flag" laws to keep guns away from those with mental health problems.
"The Second Amendment was never absolute," Biden said. "You couldn't buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn't go out and buy a lot of weapons."
Biden said the nation's experiment in democracy remains under threat, both abroad, in the form of Russia's assault on Ukraine, and in division at home. He called upholding democracy "the mission of our time."
"Our memorial to them must not be just a day when we pause and pray," Biden said. "It must be a daily commitment to act, to come together, to be worthy of the price that was paid."
In his earlier statements to reporters on guns, Biden said he'd not spoken to Republicans on the issue "but my guess is ... they’re going to have to take a hard look."
There is nowhere near enough support from congressional Republicans for broader gun measures popular with the public — like a new ban on assault-type weapons or universal background checks on gun purchases. Still, Democratic advocates hope meaningful measures could still pass.
Biden said he had taken some executive actions on guns "but I can't outlaw a weapon" and can't "change the background checks."
He said he didn't know where congressional negotiations stand, but "there's realisation on the part of rational Republicans" that "we can't keep repeating ourselves."