Biden calls for US gun law reforms on Parkland anniversary

World Monday 15/February/2021 16:31 PM
By: DW
Biden calls for US gun law reforms on Parkland anniversary

Florida: US President Joe Biden on Sunday asked Congress lawmakers to reform the country's lax gun laws in a statement marking the third anniversary of a shooting at a school in Florida in which 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old gunman.

"This administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer," the statement said.

Biden is calling on Congress to pass laws that would require background checks on all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as making gun manufacturers liable for the part their products play in shooting incidents.

Calls for reform
The confessed shooter in the Parkland massacre, Nikolas Cruz,  was armed with an AR-15-style rifle during the Valentine Day's attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he had been a student. Although he was known to have had mental health problems, he was able to purchase the weapon legally.

He is still awaiting trial.

The shooting, which killed 14 students and three adult staff, sparked fresh calls for firearms control. But new gun control legislation passed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives in the wake of the Parkland shooting was blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate at the time.

New try?
Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday, however, that the House would try again.

"We will enact these and other lifesaving bills and deliver the progress that the Parkland community and the American people deserve and demand," she said in a statement.

Such legislation might have better chances this time round in view of the fact that the Senate is now equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with the Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris having the deciding vote.

All attempts to reform gun laws in recent years have failed in the face of resistance from largely Republican lawmakers and those who insist on the continued validity of the 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1791, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.

This is despite the fact that polls have found most Americans to be in favour of some kind of gun law reform in view of the large number of mass shootings and high level of gun violence in the country.