In a Tuesday White House speech marking the ninth anniversary of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Joe Biden repeated calls for lawmakers to pass new gun control legislation. During his speech, Biden said shooting incidents in the U.S. “embarrass us as a nation.”
“Nine years ago today, we lost 20 precious first-graders and six heroic educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a nation, we owe the families of Newtown — and all the other victims of gun violence — more than our prayers. We owe them action,” Biden tweeted.
“Nine years ago today, the families in Newtown were hit especially hard,” Biden began his remarks. “No matter how long it’s been, every one of those families relives the news they got that day. 20 precious first-graders, six heroic educators, a lone gunman and an unconscionable act of violence. Everything that morning changed for you and the nation was shocked.”
Biden said after the 2012 shooting, he and then-President Barack Obama worked to reduce gun violence by passing more than 20 executive orders and new gun control legislation.
“We came close to legislation but we came up short,” Biden said. “It was so darn frustrating and it’s still frustrating now, for you and me and so many others.”
“In Parkland, Florida, and Oxford, Michigan, in countless communities across the country, there’s these horrific shootings that make national headlines and embarrass us as a nation,” Biden continued. “And for many others every day, particularly in black and brown communities, there’s the equivalent of a mass shooting we don’t even hear about.”
Biden said as a nation, the U.S. owes action to the families of those affected by gun violence. Biden then said that, since the start of his administration, he has tried to act by “curbing the proliferation of ghost guns, cracking down on rogue gun dealers, promoting safe firearm storage.” Biden also said the American Rescue Plan legislation included funding for states and cities to spend on reducing gun violence.
Biden also said his budget calls for doubling funding for gun violence prevention research, including by treating gun violence as a public health threat.
Biden then called on the Senate to pass three bills he said would help reduce gun violence.
“One requires more extensive background checks for gun sales,” he said. “One is to keep guns out of the hands of more abusers. And my Build Back Better legislation, which would make a landmark $5 billion investment in community violence prevention and intervention programs to support trusted leaders who work directly with people who are most likely to commit gun crimes or become gun victims, before it’s too late.”
Biden went on to say “I helped beat the [National Rifle Association] with your help twice, twice. It can be done again. We have to keep up the pressure.”
Since taking office, Biden has called for legislation banning “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines.” He has also called for laws criminalizing private gun sales and allowing the FBI to extend its holds on firearms transfers. In March, the Biden Department of Justice argued in defense of police who conducted a warrantless firearms seizure by lying to the owner’s wife and telling her that he had agreed to surrender the weapons.