Tuesday, 13 Apr 2021

‘An international embarrassment’: Biden announces gun violence plan

Washington: Joe Biden has announced a series of policies aimed at curbing gun violence in the US, a phenomenon the President described as an “epidemic” and “international embarrassment“.

An estimated 100 people die from gun violence each day in the US, according to Biden’s Attorney-General Merrick Garland.

Recent mass shootings at massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia and a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, have reignited debate about gun control in the US.

President Joe Biden announced new measures to tackle gun violence at the White House Rose Garden. Credit:AP

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and an international embarrassment,” Biden said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

“This is an epidemic for God’s sake and it has to stop … The idea that we have so many people dying from gun violence each day is a blemish on the character of our nation.”

Biden announced that within 30 days the Justice Department will issue a rule to stop the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns”: kits that allow people to easily construct their own firearms. Such weapons often cannot be easily traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number.

The Justice Department will also issue a rule to ensure that pistol braces are covered by regulations in the National Firearms Act and need to be registered.

The alleged shooter in last month’s Boulder killing appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make firearms more stable and accurate.

Mourners at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, where 10 people died in a mass shooting in March. Credit:AP

The Biden administration will also publish model “red flag” laws – which are designed to limit guns sales to high-risk customers – for state legislatures to follow.

Gun control advocate Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died in a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, described the measures as the boldest gun control reforms in the past 30 years.

However, Biden acknowledged far more would have to be done to seriously dent gun violence deaths in the US and that he was limited in what he could achieve through executive actions.

He called on Congress to pass a series of gun control bills, including banning assault weapons, requiring universal background checks for firearm purchases and ending legal immunity for gun manufacturers.

“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress,” Biden said.

“But they have passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence. Enough prayers, time for some action.“

He said it was a “phoney argument” to claim that such policies were an infringement on the Second Amendment right to firearms.

“No amendment to the constitution is absolute,” he said.

Passing gun control legislation would require the support of at least 10 Republicans in the Senate, which seems to be highly unlikely if not impossible at the moment.

A push to require universal background checks for firearm purchases, introduced after the death of 20 young children at a school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, fizzled out in 2013 because of a lack of support from Republicans.

Garland said Americans were dying from gun violence at a “staggering pace” given 11,000 people have already lost their lives to firearms this year.

The National Rifle Association responded to the announcement in a tweet: “Biden is dismantling the 2nd Amendment. It’s time to STAND and FIGHT!”

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