Joe Biden Calls for Development of Smart Guns That Store Your Personal Data After Mass Shootings

Former Vice President Joe Biden has vowed to use technology to make sure that assault weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, the Democratic front-runner took a swipe at Donald Trump's reaction to the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, in light of the president's view that "mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun."

Biden said that Trump's repeal of a rule keeping weapons out of the hands of people with certain mental illnesses was an indictment of the current president's position on guns, adding, "We can't trust his diagnosis."

Biden described the 1994 law he helped enact, which banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for 10 years as "the last meaningful gun legislation we were able get signed into law before the NRA and the gun manufacturers put the Republican Party in a headlock."

"Almost 15 years after the bans expired, with the unfortunate benefit of hindsight, we now know that they did make a difference," Biden wrote.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the difference in the number of deaths in U.S. mass shootings before and after the assault weapons ban.

guns assault weapons mass shooting statista
Number of deaths in U.S. mass shootings before and after the assault weapons ban. Statista

Citing how nearly 70 percent of the American public backed banning assault weapons, including 54 percent of Republicans, he said that legislation, which Republicans allowed to lapse, was effective.

"The 1994 assault weapons and high-capacity magazines bans worked. And if I am elected president, we're going to pass them again—and this time, we'll make them even stronger.

"We're going to stop gun manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor modifications to their products—modifications that leave them just as deadly. And this time, we're going to pair it with a buyback program to get as many assault weapons off our streets as possible as quickly as possible."

He said that he would get universal background checks passed, building on the Brady Bill from 1993 which established the background check system.

"I'll accelerate the development and deployment of smart-gun technology—something gun manufacturers have opposed—so that guns are keyed to the individual biometrics of authorized owners. We have to get these weapons of war off the streets."

In February, the Democratic-controlled House passed a universal background check bill in February which has not been called to a Senate vote.

The Hill pointed out that some of Biden's Democratic opponents, including former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have actually pushed for even tougher gun control measures. These include a gun licensing program, which Biden did not mention, although he has said that such a policy is doable under the Constitution, according to CNN.

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. In a New York Times editorial, he has said that banning assault weapons works. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has been criticized for its refusal to discuss restrictions on gun sales in the wake of the latest mass shootings that left at least 35 dead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has resisted calls to reconvene the Senate, which is currently out of session for August recess, to take up gun control legislation.

However, he did say in a radio interview how "two items that will, for sure, be front and center" for the Senate when it reconvenes would be a background checks bill and a "red flag" warnings bill, ABC News reported.

This article was updated to include an infographic.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts