Biden calls on Congress to reform US gun laws

WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden on Sunday (Feb 14) called on Congress to enact “common-sense” gun law reforms, three years after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“This administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call,” Biden said in a statement marking the Valentine’s Day shooting in 2018 that left 17 people dead and fresh attention to America’s lax gun laws.

“We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer.” Biden said he wants Congress to pass laws that would require background checks on all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The confessed school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time, was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and fired between 100 and 150 rounds in a rampage that killed 14 students and three adult staff at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Biden said Congress must also eliminate “immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.” Cruz was able to buy the assault rifle legally, despite having known mental health problems.

Even in a country that has grown inured to mass shootings and gun violence, the Florida shooting sparked outrage across the US and prompted fresh demands for firearms control.

But with Donald Trump in the White House and the Republicans controlling the Senate at the time, legislation approved by the Democrats in the House of Representatives went nowhere.

Democratic Speaker Nancy on Sunday said the House would try again.

“We will enact these and other life-saving bills and deliver the progress that the Parkland community and the American people deserve and demand,” she said in a statement.

Despite polls finding most Americans in favour of some sort of gun law reforms, successive US administrations have been powerless to pass legislation.

“The time to act is now,” Biden said.

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