Speaking in Chicago, just miles from where the July Fourth Highland Park shooting took place, Harris drew loud cheers for calling on Congress to ban such guns, “assault weapons” meaning semi-automatic rifles, as they did in 1994.
“We have made some progress. For the first time in 30 years, our president, Joe Biden, signed a federal gun safety bill,” she said. “And it strengthens background checks, and it closes what we call the boyfriend loophole, and it includes funding for mental health services and school security. But we have more to do. We have more to do. And Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban.”
The ban from the 1994 bill lapsed in 2004 and has not been renewed.
She later mentioned the liability shield issue.
“Let’s talk about what an assault weapon is assigned to do. An assault weapon is designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly,” Harris said, again drawing cheers. “There is no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws. And we need to have Congress stop protecting those gun manufacturers with the liability shield. Repeal it! Repeal it! So we cannot be deterred.”
The vice president made the remarks during a previously scheduled trip to Chicago to speak to the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. Becky Pringle, the group’s president, introduced Harris.
Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, the 21-year-old person of interest in the deadly shooting at an Independence Day parade in Illinois, appears to have shared public videos that preview his desire to commit acts of violence, including one video showing himself driving along the parade route where the mass shooting took place.
The shooting left seven people dead and dozens wounded.
President Joe Biden has also mentioned the liability shield issue — during the State of the Union address and also in remarks at the White House on June 2.
“We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons,” he said. “They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity.”
The statement drew pushback from critics who point out that other industries do enjoy similar protection.
The shield issue was not addressed in the gun control bill Biden later signed into law, though there could be renewed momentum for doing so in the wake of the Chicagoland shooting.
Harris repeated another Biden gun control phrase, “enough,” during her opening remarks.
“I don’t need to tell NEA: We need to end this horror, we need to stop this violence,” she said, “and we must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence. You know, I’ve said it before: Enough is enough.”
The rest of Harris’s speech focused on the challenges educators have faced in recent years while highlighting their role in communities across the country.
The trip was announced last Friday.
“Part of what I’m preparing — sadly, I was preparing it before, but it’s resonant every day — is a whole section on what our teachers go through,” Harris said Monday. “They go to school to learn how to teach our children to inspire their ambition to create the future generations of leaders, and our teachers are also in training to deal with an active shooter. Our teachers are having to learn how to put a tourniquet on a kid if they have been shot.”
Biden has not announced whether he will make a trip to the site of the shooting to meet with victims and their families.