Biden’s celebration of new gun law clouded by latest shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is hosting a “celebration” of a new bipartisan law intended to reduce gun violence that, after just 16 days in effect, has already been eclipsed by another mass shooting.

The bill, passed after recent gun rampages in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, gradually toughens requirements for young people to buy guns, denies guns to more domestic abusers and helps local authorities temporarily take up arms from people deemed dangerous.

But the event on the South Lawn on Monday morning comes a week after a gunman in Highland Park, Illinois, killed seven people during an Independence Day parade, a stark reminder of limits of the new law to combat the American phenomenon of mass gun violence.

Biden on Saturday invited Americans to share with him via text message — a new White House communications strategy — their stories of how they’ve been impacted by gun violence, tweeting that « I’m hosting an adoption celebration of the Safer Communities Act. ”

The law is the most impactful gun violence measure Congress has approved since the enactment of a now-expired assault weapons ban in 1993. Yet gun control advocates — and even White House officials – say it’s premature to declare victory.

« There just isn’t much to celebrate here, » said Igor Volsky, director of private group Guns Down America.

« It’s historic, but it’s also the bare minimum of what Congress should be doing, » Volsky said. « And as the July 4 shootings reminded us, and there are so many other gun deaths that have occurred since then, the crisis of gun violence is simply much more urgent. »

Volsky’s group, along with other gun violence advocacy groups, was scheduled to hold a press conference Monday outside the White House calling on Biden to create a dedicated White House office to address gun violence with greater sense of urgency.

Biden left gun control policy to his Domestic Policy Council, rather than creating a dedicated office like he stood up to fight climate change or the gender policy council he created to promote access to reproductive health.

“We have a president who really hasn’t met the moment, who has chosen to act as a spectator on this issue,” Volsky said. « For some reason, the administration absolutely refuses to have a senior official who can drive this issue within government. »

The president signed into law the bipartisan gun bill on June 25, calling it a “historic achievement” at the time.

» Hurry up. Lives will be saved,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room during a hastily organized signing ceremony before flying to Europe. Referring to the families of shooting victims he met, the president said: « Their message to us was, ‘Do something.’ How many times have we heard that? ‘Just do something. For the love of God, do something. Today we did it.

White House officials said Biden does not view the bill’s passage as the finish line, but rather as a foundation to build on. The Illinois shooting happened nine days after the bill was signed.

“I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in nearly 30 years, which includes actions that will save lives,” Biden said after the July 4 shooting. « But there’s still a lot of work to do, and I’m not going to give up on the fight against the epidemic of gun violence. »

On Friday, Biden responded to the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by noting how the shooting shocked people in Japan. The country has a surprisingly low incidence of gun violence compared to the United States, which has already seen thousands of gun deaths this year.

Most of the new law’s $13 billion in spending would be used to bolster mental health programs and for schools, which have been targeted by gunmen in Newtown, Connecticut; Parkland, Florida; and many other massacres by guns. It was the product of weeks of closed-door negotiations by a bipartisan group of senators that emerged with a compromise.

It does not include much tougher restrictions that Democrats and Biden have long championed, such as banning assault-type weapons and background checks on all gun transactions. Biden was expected to reiterate his call for those tougher measures on Monday, but the outlook is dim for any further congressional action.

Zeke Miller, The Associated Press


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