In an interview with CBS on Wednesday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris called on Congress to swiftly ban assault rifles to help end the mass-casualty shootings that have long plagued the United States.
“It is time for Congress to act, and stop with the false choices,” Harris told CBS’ Gayle King. “This is not about getting rid of the Second Amendment. It’s simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws. There is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society. They are weapons of war. They are designed to kill a lot of people quickly.”
Harris said that she thought the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 would have been enough of an impetus for national lawmakers to pass an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun purchases — two measures that President Joe Biden has called for in the aftermath of the Atlanta spa shootings last week and the mass shooting in a Colorado supermarket on Monday.
The vice president said that federal legislation is preferable, in order to create long-lasting change in America but, when pressed, said that Biden had not ruled out executive action.
“The point here is Congress needs to act, and on the House side they did,” Harris said. “There are two bills that the president has prepared to sign, and so we need the Senate to act. … If we really want something that is lasting, we need to pass legislation.”
Harris also chided Republican members of Congress who have frequently pushed “the false choice that everyone’s trying to come after your guns,” and blasted the words of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who called the conversation around limiting guns a “ridiculous theater” following the Colorado shooting.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Cruz said: “What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, because that’s their political objective. But what they propose, not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse.”
“Every time there is a slaughter — a mass shooting — someone who does not want to be accountable for what we need to do says, ‘Well, that wouldn’t have prevented this thing,’” Harris said. “If you took that approach to any law, we wouldn’t pass any laws that are designed to protect the health and well-being of the American people.”
Watch the interview with Harris below.