WASHINGTON: Joe Biden vented his frustration about the US government’s failure to enact tougher gun restrictions after a shooting at a school in Southern California yesterday left at least two students dead but added that he doesn’t envision any action as long as Donald Trump is president.
“I’m so tired of people talking about your prayers. Dammit, we must protect these kids. We have to do it now,” the Democratic presidential candidate said at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, about 71km south of Santa Clarita, where the shooting at Saugus High School took place.
“I am so, so sick and tired of the cowardice I see on display in Washington,” he later added during a speech in which he lamented the culture of fear that’s taken root among America’s children and teens.
“What does that say about our soul? What does that say about who we are?”
But in response to a reporter’s question about how to convince Republicans to act, he said, “it’s not going to happen with him as president because they’re afraid to take him on but it will change, I promise you.”
Two students died in the morning shooting, and another three were wounded, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office.
The 16-year-old gunman shot himself and was in critical condition.
In October, Biden rolled out a gun safety plan that includes a federal buyback program for assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, an approach that drew criticism from Trump.
Under the plan, gun owners would have the option of either selling back to the government their assault weapons or high-capacity magazines or registering them.
Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when President Bill Clinton signed the assault weapons ban into law and argues that he’s uniquely suited to fight and beat the National Rifle Association.
He also played a key role as vice president in the Obama administration’s unsuccessful efforts to implement new gun legislation after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, even though Democrats had a majority in the Senate then.
Still, Biden said he is hopeful for action and that Republicans would join the cause once Trump is out of office.
“They will because they’re going to be embarrassed not being on board,” he said.