During brief remarks to reporters on Sunday, President Joe Biden admitted background checks wouldn’t have prevented Malik Faisal Akram from obtaining the firearm he used to take hostages at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday.
Akram was a citizen of the United Kingdom. A reporter at the press briefing noted Akram had only been in the U.S. for couple weeks, and asked Biden how he was able to obtain the firearm without being a lawful U.S. citizen.
“Well allegedly — I — we — I don’t have all the facts, nor does the Attorney General, but, allegedly, the assertion was he got the weapons on the street,” Biden said. “He purchased them when he landed.”
Biden noted reports Akram stayed for at least some time in a homeless shelter after arriving in the U.S. and may have purchased the firearm from someone on the street or in the homeless shelter.
A reporter then asked Biden what were the “ramifications” Akram’s case had on the Biden administration’s gun control efforts
“The idea of background checks are critical,” Biden said. “But you can’t stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street.”
Biden then went on to criticize the overall prevalence of firearms in the U.S.
“There’s so many guns that have been sold of late,” Biden said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Biden said the standoff at the Texas synagogue is also the result of a “failure of us to focus as hard as we should and as consistent as we should on gun purchases, gun sales, ghost guns, and a whole range of things that I’m trying to do.”
The 10-hour standoff ultimately ended after law enforcement officers stormed the synagogue and fatally shot Akram. All four hostages Akram had taken were recovered without any injuries.
During the standoff, Akram claimed to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui and demanded her release. Siddiqui held ties with Al Qaeda and was convicted in 2010 for the attempted murder of a U.S. soldier two years earlier in Afghanistan. She was also previously married to the nephew of Al Qaeda leader and confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Siddiqui is currently incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth.
Biden revealed that Akram claimed during the standoff that he also had bombs.
“It turns out there apparently were no bombs that we know of,” Biden said.
The FBI announced on Monday that they are investigating the standoff as a “terrorism-related matter.” Authorities in the United Kingdom have been assisting in the investigation and have already arrested two teenagers in connection with the incident.