Vice President Kamala Harris called Tuesday for Congress to renew a federal ban on assault-style rifles and to end liability protections for gun manufacturers, saying “we need to end this horror” of gun violence.
Addressing the National Education Association’s annual conference in Chicago, the vice president spoke of Monday’s mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in nearby Highland Park, Illinois, that left six people dead and dozens wounded.
“We must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence,” Ms. Harris said. “An assault weapon is designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly. There is no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws.”
In addition to the mass shooting in Highland Park, the city of Chicago had more than 50 shooting victims over the holiday weekend, including at least nine fatalities.
Congress just passed the first federal gun safety law in about 30 years, in the wake of a shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed. Ms. Harris said the legislation, which strengthened background checks on gun purchases among other steps, wasn’t enough.
“We need to have Congress stop protecting those gun manufacturers with the liability shield. Repeal it,” she said. “Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban.”
A federal ban on assault-style weapons expired in 2004. Democrats’ attempts to renew it have failed repeatedly.
Ms. Harris, speaking to an audience of thousands of unionized teachers, said the Uvalde massacre “was the most recent reminder .. of the risks that our children and our educators face every day.”
“Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom,” she said to sustained applause. “Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound. Teachers should not be told that lives would have been saved if only you had a gun.”