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Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday called for the reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, arguing that certain semi-automatic firearms are “intentionally designed” to kill people and only belong on the battlefield.
During an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Harris spoke about her visit last week to Highland Park, Illinois, where a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on a Fourth of July parade, killing 7 and injuring 46.
“When you meet with first responders, when you meet with families of these victims, you cannot avoid the reality of what the impact of this gun violence is on a community,” the vice president said.
Harris said mass shootings keep happening across the country “because those weapons are available, and we have to stop allowing those weapons to be available to civilians living in communities of people who have a right to believe that they are not in a war zone.”
“Assault weapons were specifically and intentionally designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly,” she said. “It is a weapon of war. If you’ve ever looked at, if I may be so blunt, an autopsy photograph to see what it does to the human body. And the fact that we can’t get Congress to renew – it’s not like we’re pulling something out of our hat. We’ve done it before as a nation – to renew the assault weapons ban, is outrageous.
“You can support the Second Amendment,” she added. “I support the Second Amendment, but we should agree we should not have weapons of war on the streets of America.”
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004, specifically outlawed 19 types of semi-automatic firearms, as well as other rifles, shotguns and handguns that possess two or more of a certain set of features, including pistol grips, detachable magazines, and sound suppressors. The maximum capacity of a magazine was also set at 10 rounds.
A study released for the Department of Justice in 2004 found that its “impact on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
President Biden, who was a senator when the ban was passed, has repeatedly called for its reinstatement in the wake of several mass shootings in recent months.
But while Democrats control both chambers of Congress, any major gun reform legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate, meaning that at least 10 Republicans would have to sign on to legislation for it to be viable.
Meanwhile, a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 50 percent of registered voters support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic long guns compared to 45% who oppose, showing the lowest level of support since February 2013 when Quinnipiac began asking that question.
Fox News’ Paul Best and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.