Press "Enter" to skip to content

3651 deaths and counting: How Biden plans to rein in US gun violence crisis

As mass shootings continue to ravage the US, President Joe Biden has taken another step to reign in gun violence with an executive order while still urging authorities to “do something” more.

This week, he announced the new steps in an address to survivors and family members of victims at Monterey Park, the scene of a mass shooting in January that left 11 dead and injured nine others during Lunar New Year celebrations.

“We remember and mourn today,” Biden said. “But I’m here with you today to act.”

American nonprofit Gun Violence Archive has already logged 112 mass shootings in the US since the beginning of 2023. An estimated 3,651 people — including children — have been killed in these mass shootings, it said. Another 4,950 people died by suicide in the same period, also counted as victims of mass shootings involving four or more injured or killed. 

More than 6,400 people were also injured, all in a span of the last two-and-a-half months.

Before Biden’s executive order, the latest major legislation to combat gun violence was passed last summer after two mass shootings that killed 10 at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and 19 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The bipartisan law amplifies background checks for people younger than 21, facilitates the adoption of red flag laws that enable state courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals assessed as a threat, and blocks the possession of guns by domestic abusers.

The 2022 gun control law was the country’s first significant legislation in decades. But it still wasn’t enough to scrap the epidemic.

READ MORE: Six-year-old shoots Virginia teacher as gun culture continues to torment US

Cooperation from Congress

“I’m determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden said at Monterey Park.

The ban is within the scope of his executive order, with which the president demands stricter background checks for the purchase of firearms by making the checks universal.

The executive order calls to necessitate the safe storage of firearms, intensify the practice of last year’s law called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and increase mental health support for gun violence survivors along with those indirectly affected, such as families, first responders and communities.

Biden has also encouraged the Federal Trade Commission “to issue a public report analysing how gun manufacturers market firearms to minors and how such manufacturers market firearms to civilians, including through the use of military imagery”, in the executive order.

However, executive orders don’t alter government policy. Instead, they function as a directive for federal agencies – such as licensed gun dealers – to adhere to current laws and policies.

“Let’s be clear, none of this absolves Congress from the responsibility of acting to pass universal background checks, to eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity to liability,” Biden said.

For the directives to take full effect, Congress would have to cooperate and pass new gun laws, but the legislature could also override the president’s directive by passing a new law. In that case, Biden could resort to a presidential veto.

READ MORE: Experts point at 393 million guns as US sees barrage of mass shootings

Stalled legislation

According to Amnesty International, gun violence in the US is a human rights crisis. While suicides constitute a large part of firearms-related deaths, gun violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives yearly in the US.

The country itself is divided on the issue. While some agree with President Biden on the necessity of stricter gun controls, others (mainly Republicans) have held the US Constitution’s second amendment – “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” – as a bulwark against firearms control.

Law enforcement authorities strained by the crisis, who have had to continuously prepare for the next attack, have been calling for meaningful legislation and action from Washington to curb gun violence while legislation keeps being stalled in Congress.

A stark contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden has been an advocate of firearms control and has developed a stronger stance against guns over time. 

Reining in the “gun violence epidemic” was a campaign promise of Biden, who vowed to enact measures such as holding gun manufacturers accountable and banning individual possessions of weapons of war, which would significantly decrease fatalities in mass shootings.

Especially since his frequent calls for gun control didn’t cost him significant Democratic losses during the midterm elections, Biden is anticipated to pursue further gun control action as he advances toward a 2024 reelection bid.

READ MORE: US report on 173 mass attacks calls for early intervention to curb violence

More from AmericasMore posts in Americas »

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *