The president of the United States, Joe Biden, denounced this Thursday that his country suffers an “epidemic” of violence caused by firearms, in a ceremony in which he announced limited measures to try to control a problem that until now no president has been able brake.
The president, who has always advocated for tighter control of gun ownership, has come under pressure from his Democratic Party to act after the recent shootings in Colorado and Georgia.
“This is an epidemic, for the love of God, and it has to stop,” declared the Democratic president in the White House, also referring to the shootings as a “public health crisis.”
Without a likely agreement in Congress to pass comprehensive reform, for example to require a background report for buyers, Biden announced six bills to try to address the problem.
Biden presented a limited plan to prevent the spread of so-called “ghost weapons” – handcrafted, sometimes with 3D printers – which are untraceable if used in a crime.
He also proposed increasing regulations for arm supports designed to stabilize the weapon, a device used by the suspect in the Colorado shooting that left 10 people dead.
“Enough of prayers,” he said regarding a problem that causes nearly 40,000 deaths each year in the country. “The time for action has arrived,” said the president, who referred to the situation as an “international shame.”
The president pledged to support the agencies involved in the fight against this type of violence and commissioned a comprehensive report on the problem, a balance that had not been carried out since 2000.
– Ban assault rifles –
Biden admitted that the debate on the issue of weapons is somewhat difficult in the United States, but assured that there is more ground of understanding than you think.
The president indicated that his proposals are only a starting point and called on Congress to legislate to achieve measures such as background checks and end the sale of assault rifles that are often the weapon used in mass shootings.
“We should ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines,” he said.
The Democrat is in favor of a stricter background check for buyers of firearms and a ban on military-type rifles, such as the AR-15.
Both ideas face strong resistance in Congress, where narrow Democratic majorities in both houses make it difficult to process initiatives on this highly sensitive issue in the United States.
The AR-15, a semi-automatic resembling the iconic M16 military rifle, has been the weapon of choice in several mass killings. At the same time, the rifle is hugely popular with sports shooters and legal gun enthusiasts, symbolizing the ideological division of the country.
In 1994, as a senator, Biden supported a ban on assault rifles. The law expired a decade later and was never renewed, with Republicans lining up in more rigid positions in the face of what they describe as an attack on the constitutional right to bear arms.
The announcements were not well received by Republicans.
The Republican Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, expressed his rejection on Twitter: “Republicans will strongly oppose (the measures) and use all options, whether legislative or judicial, to protect the right to carry. weapons”.
Alabama legislator Robert Aderholt affirmed that the actions announced by Biden are aimed at “appeasing the radical left and undermining the right to bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment.”
“They want to take away his guns,” added another Republican congressman, Jim Jordan of Ohio.
In addition to the announced measures, Biden used his speech at the White House Rose Garden to appoint David Chipman, an advocate for gun control, as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a key agency in the fight against gun violence.
Reflecting the lack of political unity around firearm restrictions, the ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015.