Biden Calls Spate of Mass Shootings a ‘National Embarrassment’
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden called the spate of mass shootings in the U.S. a “national embarrassment” and challenged the Senate to take up a gun-control bill passed by the House.
Biden spoke at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday, a day after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx Corp. facility near Indianapolis International Airport, killing eight people and wounding several others before apparently taking his own life.
Biden said there is broad support among Americans, including gun owners, for background checks for weapons purchases. “I strongly urge my Republican friends in the Congress who even refuse to bring up the House-passed bill to bring it up now.”
“Who in God’s name needs a weapon that can hold 100 rounds or 40 rounds?” Biden asked, referring to high-capacity magazines. “It’s just wrong.”
“I’m not going to give up until it’s done,” he added.
Earlier Friday, Biden ordered U.S. flags to fly at half-staff after the Indianapolis shooting, the latest in series of massacres that have shaken the nation.
The recent spate of shootings have thrust gun violence back into the national spotlight and created another domestic challenge for a president already confronting the coronavirus pandemic, a historic migrant influx and police shootings of Black Americans.
Biden signed several executive actions last week aimed at curbing gun violence and called on Congress to pass gun legislation, though he acknowledged the difficulty of enacting new laws with the House and Senate closely divided along party lines.
Nonetheless, the president has said action is needed and that the number of mass shootings has humiliated the U.S. in the eyes of the world.
“It’s a national embarrassment,” Biden said in the Rose Garden with Suga listening alongside him.
Recent shootings in Colorado and Georgia left 18 people dead and caused gun-control advocates and Democratic lawmakers to ramp up pressure on Biden to address the issue.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed earlier Friday on the Indianapolis shooting. White House chief of staff Ron Klain had contacted the city’s mayor, and Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was in touch with local law enforcement, according to the White House.
Five people were hospitalized after Thursday night’s shooting including one with critical injuries, according to the Associated Press. Police said the gunman apparently killed himself after shooting the others, the AP reported.
Biden’s executive actions would crack down on “ghost guns,” which can be assembled from kits and are not traceable by law enforcement because they lack serial numbers, as well as braces for pistols that make firearms more stable and accurate.
The president also announced federal funds would go toward community violence intervention and prevention programs that are designed to de-escalate conflicts in urban communities before they turn violent. His proposed infrastructure bill includes $5 billion over eight years for the programs.
(Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for universal background checks and gun-control measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.)
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