Biden calls for new laws to curb gun access after string of shootings

5 July, 2023 | Srishti Ruchandani

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Biden urged Republican lawmakers to join him in advancing "commonsense reforms," such as a ban on assault weapons

US President Joe Biden has appealed to lawmakers to take action following a series of shootings in major cities leaving at least 10 dead, illustrating the country’s ongoing struggle with gun violence.

In a statement issued by White House, Biden urged Republican lawmakers to join him in advancing “commonsense reforms,” such as a ban on assault weapons, widespread background checks, and an end to the legal immunity enjoyed by gun manufacturers.
Biden said, “Over the last few days, our nation has once again endured a wave of tragic and senseless shootings in communities across America — from Philadelphia to Fort Worth, Baltimore to Lansing, Wichita to Chicago.” In his statement, Biden said the “epidemic of gun violence” in the US is “tearing our communities apart”.

As the US started a long holiday weekend that would culminate on Tuesday with Independence Day, a wave of gunshots started on Friday.
Prior to that, a sidewalk shooting occurred on Friday night in Chicago, Illinois, leaving one person dead and three others injured. Then, early on Sunday, there were two further shootings that resulted in many casualties: one at a bar in Wichita, Kansas, where nine people were hurt, and another at a block party in Baltimore, Maryland, where two people died and 28 were hurt.

On Monday, there was more gunfire in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which resulted in the deaths of five people and injuries to two children. Three people were killed in a shooting that same evening in Fort Worth, Texas, during a neighbourhood fair. And in the early hours of Tuesday, an altercation at a party in Lansing, Michigan, led to a shooting that injured five.

The Philadelphia violence was the country’s 29th mass killing in 2023, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Alarmingly, this year has witnessed the highest number of mass killings and associated deaths ever recorded at this point in time. Since 2006, the database reveals over 550 incidents of mass killings, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 2,900 lives and leaving over 2,000 people injured.

The US has some of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, yet there are more mass shootings here than in comparable nations.
The Gun Violence Archive has recorded 346 mass shootings in the US so far in the first half of this year. Mass shootings are defined as instances of gun violence in which at least four people were hurt or killed. In fifteen of those situations, 16 persons were killed in the previous week.
In his remarks on Tuesday, Biden remembered the seven people who died when a gunman opened fire on an Independence Day celebration in Highland Park, Illinois, one year ago, murdering seven people,
Biden wrote, “In mere moments, this day of patriotic pride became a scene of pain and tragedy.”

Additionally, conservative Supreme Court judges have questioned gun licencing limits in left-leaning states like New York and declared some of them to be illegal.

Conservative lawmakers contend that people can protect themselves by having access to firearms and that efforts to restrict gun ownership have no impact on overall rates of violence.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun lobbying organisations continue to have significant political influence in the US.

In a rare move, Congress passed a bipartisan gun safety law in June 2022, restricting the sale of firearms to people convicted of domestic violence and expanding background checks.

While hailing the legislation as “monumental,” Biden recognised that it did not address more contentious topics like bans on assault weapons and background checks for sales of firearms.