US President Joe Biden used Sunday’s first anniversary of a racially motivated mass shooting to highlight steps he is taking to reduce gun violence, while repeating his demand that Congress “do more” to save lives.
Ten Black Americans were murdered on May 14, 2022, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, by a self-declared white supremacist gunman.
Multiple mass shootings followed, including a school rampage 10 days later in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 young children and two teachers were killed by a teen gunman wielding an assault-style rifle.
Biden, writing in a column in the newspaper USA Today, called on Americans to “seize the momentum” and spur Congress into action, and said he is using his executive authority to boost or otherwise reinforce existing gun control measures, including those that passed in a historic bill last June.
“I’m doing everything I can to reduce gun violence, but Congress must do more,” Biden said.
He said Congress must act by “banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring gun owners to securely store their firearms, requiring background checks for all gun sales, and repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.”
A federal assault weapons ban — like the one Biden helped pass as a senator, but which expired in 2004 — is extremely unlikely in today’s divided Congress, where Republicans overwhelmingly oppose such measures.
The Democratic president said that a majority of Americans want “commonsense action” on gun violence, but “too many congressional Republicans are doing the bidding of gun manufacturers instead of their constituents.”
The White House in an accompanying fact sheet described several Biden administration initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence.
They include enhancing background checks for gun purchases, particularly by people under 21; adding dating relationship statuses in domestic abuse cases to help keep guns out of abusers’ hands; boosting school safety awareness; and increased prosecutions over firearms trafficking and purchases of weapons for people banned from buying a gun.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said last year’s law, the most significant legislation to regulate firearms since 1994, was a good beginning but “not enough” to substantially reduce gun violence.
US lawmakers “have put their heads in the sand, and they are more responsive to the needs of the gunmakers… making a profit and less interested in the lives of American citizens,” Brown told CNN Sunday.
More than 215 US mass shootings have occurred this year, according to the non-governmental organization Gun Violence Archive.
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