SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is calling on the U.S. Senate to immediately move to consider her Age 21 Act, a bill to raise the age required to purchase assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from 18 to 21.
Feinstein’s call to action comes less than 24 hours after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The shooter reportedly purchased two AR-15 assault rifles shortly after his 18th birthday, one of which he used to murder children in their classroom Tuesday.
“It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The Texas gunman barricaded himself inside the 4th grade students’ classroom until law enforcement officers broke in and killed him, Olivarez said.
On May 14, another 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people inside a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y. He legally purchased an AR-15-style assault rifle shortly after his 18th birthday.
Under the Age 21 Act, the Texas and New York teenagers’ weapons purchase attempts would have been rejected.
“In fewer than 10 days, two mass shootings by 18-year-olds left 31 people dead. And in both shootings, assault rifles were legally purchased by teenagers because our gun laws are broken and because Republicans refuse to help fix them,” Feinstein said.
“Both these teenage shooters would have been turned away at a bar. But they were able to walk into gun stores and legally purchase one of the most deadly weapons available,” Feinstein said. “This is unconscionable.”
“Even though the Age 21 Act had bipartisan support in the past, too many Republicans live in constant terror of the gun lobby and refuse to do anything to stop the bloodshed. To all my Republican colleagues who think an 18-year-old should be able to buy an assault rifle, this is the result: 31 lives snuffed out, including 19 young children in an elementary school classroom. Have you no shame?” Feinstein asked.
She said, “I am heartbroken by these senseless deaths and I am sickened that our country stands by and does nothing.”
President Joe Biden echoed Feinstein’s urgency for new gun restrictions in a somber address to the nation on Tuesday.
“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” Biden asked.
The Texas school shooting happened hours before the Golden State Warriors basketball team played a Western Conference Finals game in Dallas, Texas.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr refused to talk about basketball during a pre-game press conference with reporters. Instead, he made an emotional speech and challenged senators to make a change.
Kerr called out 50 U.S. senators for failing to vote on a background check bill that was passed by the House of Representatives.
“We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington, who refuse to even put it to a vote,” Kerr said. “Despite what we, the American people, want, they won’t vote on it because they want to hold on to their own power.”
“So I ask you, Mitch McConnell. I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings, I ask you, are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children, and our elderly, and our churchgoers?” Kerr said.
Kerr added, “It’s pathetic. I’ve had enough.”
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told his fellow senators that he will not immediately bring gun control measures to the floor because there’s almost no chance of gaining enough votes from Republicans.
Schumer said bringing gun-control legislation to the floor, even in the immediate aftermath of Uvalde, would be fruitless because of staunch Republican opposition.
Schumer said it is up to American voters to elect new senators.
Schumer said, “Sadly, this isn’t a case of the American people now knowing where their senators stand. They know. They know because my Republican colleagues are perfectly clear on this issue. Crystal clear. Americans can cast their vote in November for senators or members of Congress that reflect how he or she stands with guns.”