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VP Kamala Harris calls on Congress to renew Clinton-era assault weapons ban

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Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday called on Congress to "have the courage to act" and renew the assault weapons band after a mass shooting in Illinois killed seven people at a July 4 parade. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/de8f5e73810052bcf92d506247c68819/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday called on Congress to "have the courage to act" and renew the assault weapons band after a mass shooting in Illinois killed seven people at a July 4 parade. Photo by Tannen Maury/UPI | License Photo

July 5 (UPI) -- Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday called on Congress to renew the federal assault weapons ban in the wake of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade that killed seven people in Highland Park, Ill.

Harris made remarks while speaking before the National Education Association's annual meeting at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, which is located about 30 miles away from Highland Park.

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The suspected gunman, Robert "Bobby" Crimo, 21, was charged Tuesday with seven counts of first-degree murder after authorities said he used a "high-powered" weapon to fire more than 70 rounds into the crowd of parade participants and attendees.

"Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban," Harris said.

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"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."

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Harris said that the United States has "made some progress" regarding gun control, citing a bipartisan federal gun safety bill that President Joe Biden signed last month that provides funding for mental health services and school security in addition to strengthening background checks and closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole."

She said, however, that "we still have more to do" to combat gun violence and called for the return of the assault weapons ban that was enacted under former President Bill Clinton and was in effect between 1994 and 2004, when it was not renewed. Multiple attempts to renew the ban over the years have failed.

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"We need to end this horror. We need to stop this violence. And we must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence," Harris said.

Speaking before the labor union, which represents public educators, Harris said teachers and parents of school children were among those impacted by the shooting, while noting that the nation is "still mourning" the loss of 19 students and two teachers killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May.

"This massacre was the most recent reminder -- in Uvalde -- of the risk that our children and our educators face every day," she said. "Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom. Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound, and teachers should not be told that lives would have been saved if only you had a gun."

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Tuesday that Biden, who was traveling to Ohio to discuss the American Rescue Plan on Wednesday, did not "have any plans right now to go to Chicago" to address the shooting.

Biden, however, did issue a proclamation Tuesday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff Tuesday while describing the shooting as "a senseless act of gun violence."

In remarks from a July 4 barbecue at the White House on Monday, Biden condemned the shooting while calling for more effort to combat gun violence.

"We've got more work to do, we've got to get this under control," he said.

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