U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday announced a slate of measures and legislative proposals on gun violence, saying that “gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.”
The president’s actions follow several recent high-profile mass shootings in Georgia in which a shooter killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, and one in Colorado where 10 people were killed in a supermarket.
Between those two mass shootings, President Biden said, there were 850 other shootings that killed at least 200 people and injured more than 500 others.
“Every day in this country, 316 people are shot. Every single day. A hundred and six of them die every day. Our flag was still flying at half-staff for the victims of the horrific murder of 8 primarily Asian American people in Georgia when 10 more lives were taken in a mass murder in Colorado,” President Biden said in his remarks in the White House Rose Garden. “You probably didn’t hear it, but between those two incidents, less than one week apart, there were more than 850 additional shootings — 850 — that took the lives of more than 250 people, and left 500 — 500 — injured. This is an epidemic, for God’s sake. And it has to stop.”
The president, who was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland and members of Congress, said his gun control measures did not go against the Constitution of the United States.
“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment. They’re phony, arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we’re talking about,” the president said, adding that “no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who spoke at the White House as well, said more than 11,000 people have been killed by gun violence in the United States this year alone, or more than 100 people every day.
The president’s actions geared towards reducing gun violence included
- Increasing available federal funding for community gun violence intervention programs through the American Jobs Plan, Medicaid funding, as well as through agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Labor;
- A proposed rule from the Department of Justice to help stop the proliferation of ghost guns;
- Model red flag legislation for the states from the Department of Justice;
- Comprehensive, annual reports from the Department of Justice on the trafficking of firearms;
- Having the Department of Justice issue a rule making clear that any stabilizing device effectively turning a pistol into a short-barreled rifle is subject to the requirements of the National Firearm Act;
- The nomination of David Chipman to be the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
Amnesty International USA described the president’s actions as “a resounding victory for all Americans.”
“Today’s actions from President Biden represent a resounding victory for communities, front-line organizations, gun violence survivors and all Americans. For too long, the way the U.S. government has addressed the issue of gun violence has been negligent at best, and disastrous, at worst,” said Bob Goodfellow, Acting Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “Gun violence remains one of the primary issues threatening the human rights of communities across this country. These actions are a crucial first step in ensuring that U.S. government agencies are truly prepared to prioritize people over guns. Amnesty International USA applauds the Biden-Harris Administration for this much-needed leadership”