Dozens of mayors from across the country demanded on Thursday that Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson move forward to reinstate a federal assault weapons ban.
The more than 60 mayors, who sent their demand to Johnson in a letter dated Nov. 9, pointed to recent mass shootings, including one in Lewiston, Maine that claimed 18 lives recently, as impetus behind a renewed push to strengthen the country’s notoriously weak gun laws.
In a call with fellow mayors and reporters, New York City Mayor Eric Adams leaned on Johnson’s Christian faith as one of several reasons he should take up the mantle of an assault weapons ban.
“You have said that your political beliefs are found in the pages of the Bible and the words of Jesus. Jesus’ words of love, faith and non-violence should inspire you now to do the right thing,” Adams said. “I believe in the power of prayer, but when it comes to guns, we need the power of political will too. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. You have the power, Mr. Speaker, use it to protect American lives.”
The civilian use of assault weapons was prohibited in the U.S. from 1994 to 2004, but that ban ended almost 20 years ago and since then has not been reinstated. In 1994, President Biden, who was than a senator, backed the ban.
Rob Wilcox, deputy director of the White House’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention, praised Adams for his stand on the issue, in what amounted to a break from hostilities between Adams and President Biden’s administration when it comes to the migrant crisis.
Wilcox, who appeared on the call with the mayors, noted that Biden is once again behind the push for an assault weapons ban.
“Much more needs to be done. We need Congress to act,” Wilcox said. “This is a critical part of the solution.”
Johnson, who recently took on the House Speaker role after Rep. Kevin McCarthy was stripped of the post by fellow Republicans, has not signaled much of a desire to change the status quo when it comes to guns, though.
“At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns,” he said during an interview on Fox News recently. “It’s not the weapons. At the end of the day, we have to protect the right of citizens to protect themselves, and that’s the Second Amendment.”