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Kamala Harris urges Senate to act on gun control legislation, says Biden is "prepared to sign"

VP Kamala Harris on gun control legislation
VP Kamala Harris on gun control legislation 06:41

Vice President Kamala Harris is calling on Congress — and the Senate in particular — to pass gun control measures in the wake of two mass shootings that left a total of 18 people dead in the span of one week.

"The point here is Congress needs to act," Harris said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "On the House side, they did. There are two bills which the president is prepared to sign, and so we need the Senate to act."

The two measures passed by the House of Representatives are aimed at expanding background checks for gun sales.

Just six days after a 21-year-old gunman killed eight people — six of them women of Asian descent — across three spas in Georgia, another 21-year-old in Boulder, Colorado shot 10 people dead at a supermarket. One of the victims included a Boulder police officer, who was first to respond to the scene. 

In both instances, the gunmen used AR-15-styled assault weapons. 

"There is no reason why we have assault weapons on the streets of a civil society. They are weapons of war," Harris said.

And while the tragic events captured national attention, they were just two mass shooting events of seven that occurred across seven days.

The shootings have already spurred debates in Congress while President Biden urged the Senate to quickly pass the House's gun control legislation as well as reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that was in effect from 1994 through 2004.

However, efforts to limit firearms have faced partisan opposition.

In a Senate Judiciary hearing on gun violence Tuesday, which was scheduled before the mass shooting in Boulder occurred, Republican Senator Ted Cruz panned the hearing as "ridiculous theater" while fellow GOP lawmakers accused Democrats of using the shootings as an excuse to limit the Second Amendment.

Republican Senator John Kennedy compared the worsening gun violence in the country to drunk driving, claiming the answer to the latter would not be to "get rid of all sober drivers."

The vice president accused lawmakers arguing against gun control legislation of setting up "false choices."

"This is not about getting rid of the Second Amendment," Harris said. "It's simply about saying we need reasonable gun safety laws."

Should Congress fail to pass meaningful legislation, the vice president said Mr. Biden may be prepared to take executive action.

"I don't think the president is excluding that. But again, I want to be clear that if we really want something that is going to be lasting, we need to pass legislation," she said. 

Harris added she was "not willing to give up" on pushing Congress to come together on reforms.

"The House has acted," Harris said. "Now it's in the hands of the Senate."

Watch more of the vice president's exclusive interview below:

Kamala Harris on unaccompanied minors at bord... 06:47
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