President Biden on Monday sparked anger and frustration in the wake of a Texas mass shooting with remarks about gun safety reform that included describing two GOP congressional leaders as "rational."
The president said on the White House lawn that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is "a rational Republican," and he thinks Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is too, according to multiple reporters present.
Biden's comments came after McConnell told CNN last week — after the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde — that he "encouraged" Cornyn to talk with Democrats to "come up with a bipartisan solution."
Responding on Twitter to the president's Monday statement, "Our America" co-host Sawyer Hackett simply said, "Wait, what?"
Writer Thor Benson was similarly concise, tweeting, "Hmmm ... no."
Former Democratic Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner asked, "What in the neoliberal hell is this?"
Jeet Heer, a national affairs correspondent at The Nation, said that "this might be justified if it yielded results in Republican lawmakers voting for parts of Biden's agenda, but it won't."
"As it stands," he warned, "it's giving centrist voters permission to vote for any Republican who is not" former President Donald Trump or Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
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Noting that "Cornyn was tweeting a few days ago about making schools like airports," journalist Aaron Rupar said, "I'm skeptical of his rationality on guns."
"I beg of Democrats to start dealing with Republicans as they are and not the made-up version you wish they were," he added.
Last Tuesday, Salvador Ramos used an AR-15-style-rifle that he legally purchased in Texas after his 18th birthday to murder 19 children and two teachers at the Uvalde elementary school. The teenage gunman was then killed by law enforcement. Biden's Department of Justice is now reviewing the police response to the shooting.
The president told reporters Monday, "I think things have gotten so bad that everybody's getting more rational about it, at least that's my hope."
"The Second Amendment was never absolute," he said, according to the Associated Press. "You couldn't buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn't go out and buy a lot of weapons."
Biden also explained the limitations on his powers, saying, "I can't dictate this stuff. I can do the things that I've done — and any executive action I can take I'll continue to take — but I can't outlaw a weapon. I can't ... change the background checks. I can't do that."
Faced with nationwide calls for action and data on firearm deaths in the U.S., House Democrats have repeatedly moved to strengthen gun laws in recent years. But unless the party's entire caucus in the Senate decides to end the filibuster, most legislation cannot make it through the evenly split upper chamber without GOP support.
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