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Biden Urges Stronger Gun Laws, Equating School Shooting Trauma to Soldiers in War

President Biden delivered a compelling case on Friday advocating for stronger gun laws, highlighting the shared trauma experienced by American children in school shootings and soldiers in war. Speaking at a firearms safety summit in Hartford, Conn., which included gun violence victims, Biden commemorated the one-year anniversary of a bipartisan bill aimed at preventing access to firearms by dangerous individuals. However, he stressed that more action is required to address the issue.

Biden posed a thought-provoking question, asking about the distinction between the post-traumatic stress faced by soldiers in Afghanistan and the trauma inflicted upon fourth-grade children forced to take cover in their classrooms. At a time when significant legislative action on gun control appears unlikely despite the prevalence of mass shootings in the United States, Biden called upon Congress to find ways to strengthen existing laws. He emphasized the need for a new Congress if the current one fails to act.

Although Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress during Biden’s initial two years in office, they were unable to pass an assault weapons ban. With the Republican-controlled House largely opposing new gun control measures, any current efforts are expected to face similar resistance. Nevertheless, Biden expressed the urgency for Congress to implement stricter gun laws.

One year ago, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reached a narrow compromise spurred by a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers. The bill expanded background checks for gun purchasers and allocated funds for intervention programs, including mental health and drug courts. It also authorized the implementation of red flag laws that enable temporary confiscation of firearms from individuals deemed too dangerous by a judge.

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Biden shared that the Justice Department had provided over $230 million to states for the expansion of these laws. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services allocated more than $1.5 billion to hire 14,000 mental health professionals for schools. While acknowledging the positive impact of this legislation on reducing violent crime in America, Biden referred to it as a crucial first step.

According to the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice, homicides, gun assaults, and reports of domestic violence declined slightly in 2022 across 35 cities compared to the previous year. However, the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group tracking gun violence, reported over 260 mass shootings as of late May, with 647 incidents recorded the previous year. Biden shared encounters with concerned citizens expressing fear over shootings near their homes and the safety of their children in schools, illustrating the profound impact of gun violence.

Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, a gun control organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, emphasized the significance of gun control as the 2024 campaign gains momentum. Ambler highlighted Biden’s commitment to delivering results on this issue and the contrasting positions of the Democrats and their opponents.

While Biden previously stated that he had exhausted his executive authority on gun-related matters, urging Congress to take action, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, hinted at the possibility of additional measures without providing specific details. She affirmed the administration’s ongoing commitment to finding ways to protect communities.

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