Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on the Anniversary of VAWA and the Bans on Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines

Twenty-six years ago, today, two landmark pieces of legislation became the law of the land: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Each of them helped make our communities and our families safer, and delivered real results for vulnerable communities. And we must fight for each of them again today.

Writing and passing VAWA remains to this day the legislative accomplishment of which I am most proud. With VAWA, we took an enormous step in the long, hard work of changing the culture in our country of silence and acceptance around the issues of sexual assault and domestic violence by making it clear these were not private, family matters – they were crimes. We invested in the structures and systems so that women who were not safe in their homes could get support and security for themselves and their children. We created a national hotline so that women could reach out for help. We gave prosecutors the tools they needed to hold abusers accountable, and we created new protections for vulnerable populations of women, including Native women and immigrants. In the decades since we passed VAWA the first time, incidents of intimate partner violence have decreased drastically. Each time VAWA has been reauthorized, with the support of strong leadership and the tireless work of advocates, Congress came together with bipartisan majorities to strengthen and expand protections. But President Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have decided to block the most recent VAWA reauthorization, because it would close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and prevent abusive dating partners from buying a gun.

Similarly, Republicans allowed the bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to expire after just ten years. We know these bans worked. Multiple analyses of the data around mass shootings provide evidence that, from 1994 to 2004, the years when assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were banned, there were fewer mass shootings – fewer deaths, fewer families needlessly destroyed. There’s overwhelming data that shootings committed with assault weapons kill more people than shootings with other types of guns.

Yet, despite this knowledge, President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress refuse to pass even the most basic common sense gun safety measures – including reinstating the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans, which has the support of nearly 70 percent of the American public.

Today, the victories we won 26 years ago remain unfinished. Congress must once more demonstrate the courage and leadership necessary to again stand against violence, intimidation, and the abuse of power in all its forms. As President, I will immediately push for Congress to pass VAWA reauthorization legislation and send it to my desk so that we can fulfill our obligations to those women who are suffering and feel abandoned. And I’ll take the fight directly to the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers to get assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets again.