Biden rejoins political fracas over guns: The Note

His plea Thursday was broad: "Do something -- for God's sake, do something."

June 3, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

President Joe Biden called it one of his mistakes as president -- his tendency, after a long career in Congress and a vice presidency where his charge included problem-solving on Capitol Hill, to forge through legislative weeds on issues where he may not succeed.

"The public doesn't want me to be the 'president-senator,'" Biden said at the news conference marking his first year in office.

That could be changing again, at a pivotal moment for Biden's presidency and a somber moment in the nation he leads.

The president's plea Thursday night was broad: "Do something -- for God's sake, do something," he said, paraphrasing the wishes of family members shattered by recent shootings. But he enumerated specific steps that may not reflect potential bipartisan consensus at the moment.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about the recent mass shootings and urges Congress to pass laws to combat gun violence at the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, June 2, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks about the recent mass shootings and urges Congress to pass laws to combat gun violence at the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, June 2, 2022.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Biden's wish list includes a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, raising the purchasing age of long guns to 21, safe-storage and red flag laws, and repealing immunity protections for gun manufacturers.

"I just told you what I'd do. The question now is what will the Congress do," the president said.

Biden put in the basket some items that top Democrats have conceded probably won't get Republican buy-in in the Senate and that go beyond what the House is on track to pass. The president said he supports bipartisan efforts to come up with a compromise but also called GOP opposition in the form of a promised Senate filibuster "unconscionable."

Before he spoke, White House aides were downplaying both expectations and the extent of his involvement in talks among senators. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden is intent on giving "space" to congressional negotiators and that he chose to speak Thursday night to remind people "that his voice is still out there and that the American people know that he's fighting for them."

But in turning to this format at this moment, there's a chance that his voice is not productive for the current fight -- either for Biden politically, or for his point of view legislatively.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul skipped the first televised debate of the gubernatorial primary season, but her performance since she assumed office was front and center.

Hochul's primary challengers, Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams took aim at her handling of crime and past friendliness toward the gun lobby.

"In [2012], Governor Hochul was receiving an 'A' rating from the NRA and touting that endorsement," said Williams. "There has been a decade of death that occurred since that."

The criticism follows the spate of deadly mass shootings, including the Buffalo shooting in which investigators say the shooter targeted Black victims. Both Williams and Suozzi accused Hochul of not doing enough on guns.

PHOTO: Rep.Tom Suozzi conducts a news conference outside the Capitol, Dec. 8, 2021.
Rep.Tom Suozzi conducts a news conference outside the Capitol, Dec. 8, 2021.
Tom Williams/AP, FILE

"The red flag is a brand new law. It's three years old, and it hasn't been implemented and this governor has still not implemented that law," said Suozzi. "We need to educate the police, social workers, mental health experts, teachers, family members that you can take guns away from people that are mentally unstable, that have drug and alcohol problems, by bringing them through a due process procedure."

The discussion comes as Hochul and state Democrats fast-track a package of gun reforms. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new task force to address gun violence throughout the nation's largest city, though there are concerns about the ability of this task force led by volunteers to make a substantive impact.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Weeks after earning former President Trump's endorsement and subsequently winning the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial primary, state Sen. Doug Mastriano is agreeing to be interviewed by the Jan. 6 select committee. Mastriano also turned over requested materials related to the investigation to the panel.

"Sen. Mastriano has nothing to hide and has provided all responsive documents and will be sitting for a voluntary interview as the committee has agreed to forego a formal deposition for him," Mastriano's attorney, Tim Parlatore, told ABC News.

PHOTO: Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin speaks at a primary night election gathering in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17, 2022.
Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin speaks at a primary night election gathering in Chambersburg, Pa., May 17, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

As part of his endorsement of Mastriano -- who led state efforts to discredit Pennsylvania's 2020 election results -- Trump said there is "no one in Pennsylvania who has done more, or fought harder, for Election Integrity." In the weeks following Joe Biden's win in Pennsylvania, Mastriano called for a full audit of his state's 2020 election count and hosted a public hearing "to discuss 2020 election issues and irregularities," which Rudy Giuliani attended.

He also later organized transportation for attendees of the Jan. 6 rally, which preceded the riot on the Capitol. Materials pertaining to the move were among those turned over to the committee. Mastriano was also subpoenaed in February regarding his possible knowledge of attempts to create an alternate slate of electors, as well as having witnessed the events of Jan. 6. Mastriano was asked about the subpoena during an April primary debate -- at the time, the state senator said there were "no legal issues" related to his attendance of the rally.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

70. That's the share of Americans who don't want President Biden to run for president in 2024, according to an AP/NORC poll conducted earlier this year. And as FiveThirtyEight's Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux writes, that's unusual. Voters often say they don't want first-term presidents to seek a second term, but the share of Americans who don't want Biden to seek a second term is unusually high compared to previous first-term presidents. Read more from Amelia on why many Americans, including many Democrats, are lukewarm on Biden running again.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Friday morning with a special report from ABC's MaryAlice Parks and Mary Bruce on President Biden's nationwide address on gun violence. And, ABC's Alex Presha details his exclusive interview with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the recent surge in gas prices, and what's being done about it.


  • At 10:30 a.m., President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the May jobs report from the Rehoboth Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
  • ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”: Roundtable: New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman, Associated Press Executive Editor Julie Pace, former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, former DNC Chair and ABC News Contributor Donna Brazile.

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