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Biden demands Republicans move on gun background check bill


President Biden Friday demanded the Republicans in the Senate move on passing gun background check legislation, calling the string of mass shootings and gun violence a "national embarrassment."

Biden pushed the Senate to take a vote on House-passed legislation that would expand background checks and close certain loopholes.

"I strongly, strongly urge my Republican friends in the Congress who refuse to bring up the House-passed bill to bring it up now," Biden said. "This has to end. It's a national embarrassment."

Speaking at a joint White House press conference Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Biden was pressed on whether he needs to prioritize police reform and gun control measures in the wake of more mass shootings and police-related deaths.

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden hold a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden hold a joint news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner(Reuters)

Biden rejected the notion that guns have taken a backseat to his infrastructure and coronavirus agenda in Congress and he doubled down on his support for banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

"I strongly support the universal background checks, which I continue to push. And Congress has to step up and act. The Senate has to act," Biden said. "I strongly support and ... never stopped supporting the ban on assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 bullets."

Biden said "no one has worked harder" than him on ending gun violence and he pointed to his work in the Senate to pass the now-expired 1994 assault weapons ban. He said he's committed to passing such gun restrictions again. 

"Who in God's name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds, or 40 rounds, or 20 rounds," Biden said. "It's just wrong. And I'm not going to give up until it's done."

The first hurdle, though, will be getting support for a universal background check bill in the Senate that's split 50-50. The House already passed legislation to expand federal gun background checks on all firearms sales and extend the background check review period from three days to a minimum of 10 business days. 

But Republicans have resisted the legislation and moderate West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin also said he can't support new background checks measures on private sales. 

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