VP Harris to be a "leading voice" on gun violence heading into 2024

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Washington — The Biden-Harris campaign plans to make addressing gun violence a key focus of President Biden's reelection effort, and Vice President Kamala Harris will be a "leading voice" on the issue, according to senior Democratic sources.

On Friday, Harris will mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day with a speech at a high school in Springfield, Virginia, named after John Lewis, the late Democratic congressman and civil rights icon.

Harris' remarks will highlight the president's commitment to ending gun violence and "underscore the fear and trauma students, teachers and parents experience as a result of gun violence," according to a White House official.

"Parents should not have to pray after dropping their child off at school that they will be safe in class. They should not fear the worst every time they get a text or call from their child's school," Harris plans to say, according to an excerpt of her prepared remarks shared with CBS News. "Teachers should not have to start each new year instructing a child on how to barricade the classroom door. Kindergarten students should not have to practice lockdown drills and rehearse how to turn off the lights and hide quietly in a closet."

Harris will also call for "common-sense gun safety reforms" and denounce "extremist leaders for their hypocrisy," the official said.

So far in 2023, there have been 268 shootings in which four or more people have been shot, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings. The Biden-Harris administration plans to renew efforts to highlight what administration officials have called a "public health crisis."

"Weapons of war have no place on the streets of a civil society. Background checks and red-flag laws are common sense because it is reasonable to want to know before someone buys a gun whether they have been found by a court to be a danger to themselves or to others," Harris will also say Friday in Virginia, a rebuke to Republican opposition to the administration's initiatives on gun violence.

"Most people understand: It's a false choice to suggest we have to choose between either upholding the 2nd Amendment or passing reasonable gun safety laws," she will add.

The vice president has traveled to communities reeling from mass shootings and recently met with lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives who protested gun violence on the chamber floor. Demonstrators had flooded the state capitol in the wake of a March 2023 school shooting in Nashville.

The vice president's emphasis on gun violence reflects public sentiment around the issue. Americans now say gun violence is their top public health concern, according to a May poll by Axios-Ipsos.

The vice president has also tasked her team to look at other potential actions on gun violence outside of an executive order, sources familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Biden has long called for stricter gun laws, most recently to mark one year since the shooting that killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas.

"In each place, we hear the same message — do something. For God's sake, please do something," Mr. Biden said last month. "We have to do this to save our children."

The president signed bipartisan legislation in 2022 — the most sweeping gun laws in decades — that strengthened background checks, restricted convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns and made it easier for states to establish red-flag laws. He also signed an executive order earlier this year that increased background checks and promoted safer storage of firearms.

But with limited executive power, Mr. Biden and Harris have repeatedly called on Congress to pass additional legislation, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, something Republican leaders oppose. Congress is unlikely to act further heading into an election year. Recent CBS News polling shows Americans are still sharply divided over gun policy, with most feeling that neither party is particularly effective at preventing violence.

Trump attorneys arrive at Justice Department

Airline etiquette: Tips for how to act on a flight

Federal Reserve considers pausing interest rate hikes