President Joe Biden on Monday admitted that he had not reached out to Republicans about gun reform, and "deliberately did not engage in debate" while visiting Uvalde, Texas.
Biden, speaking to reporters after stepping off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, said, "I can’t dictate this stuff" after being asked if he had a responsibility to act.
"I can do the things 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 check. I can't do that,” Biden said, MSNBC broadcast.
Biden returned to Washington after a weekend visit to Uvalde, site of Tuesday's mass school shooting that resulted in 21 dead, including 19 students.
Biden was asked if he could reach a gun-reform deal with the GOP after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week that he had tasked Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to negotiate with Democrats.
"I don’t know," Biden said. "McConnell is a rational Republican. Cornyn is as well.”
Biden has said that Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., will handle the negotiations over gun control.
"I have not been negotiating with any of the Republicans yet," Biden said. "I deliberately did not engage in a debate about that with any Republicans when we were down consoling families in Texas."
Biden said the Second Amendment "was never absolute."
"I know that it makes no sense to be able to purchase something that can fire up to 300 rounds," Biden said. "I know what happened when we had rational action before back in the [assault weapons ban that expired in 2004]. It did significantly cut down mass murders.
"And, remember, the Constitution, the Second Amendment was never absolute. You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed and you couldn’t go out and purchase a lot of weapons."
Biden suggested that, after last week's shooting, "I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it."
Biden and first lady Jill Biden offered comfort Sunday to Uvalde as they paid respects at a memorial to the victims slain during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
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