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Biden calls for action to reduce gun violence on anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting

Biden calls for action to reduce gun violence on anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting
Marchers hold up photos of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings at the March for Our Lives demonstration in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden marked the nine-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that killed 20 children and six educators with a call for action to reduce gun violence.

Along with the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Biden also mentioned the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, which killed 17 people and prompted March for Our Lives protests, and the shooting late last month in southeast Michigan, that killed four, in a video released by the White House.

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He referred to the above school shootings as "horrific shootings that make national headlines and embarrass us as a nation," adding that shootings also occur daily in Black and Brown communities that don't make the national headlines.

"As a nation, we owe all these families more than our prayers," Biden said in the video. "We owe them action."

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A lone gunman fatally shot 20 first-graders, and six school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School while Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama.

"For me and for Barack, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was one of the saddest days we were in office those eight years," Biden said in the video message.

In response, Biden noted in the video message that at the time the administration formed a broad coalition and enacted more than 20 executive orders to reduce gun violence, but came up short of enacting legislation.

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"It was so darn frustrating, and it's still frustrating now for you and me and so many others," Biden said. "We have to keep up the pressure."

Biden specifically said there were "three commonsense bills to reduce gun violence that the Senate should pass now."

One of these bills would require more extensive background checks for gun sales. Another is to keep guns out of the hands of abusers. A third is the Build Back Better legislation, which Biden said "would make a landmark $5 billion investment in community violence prevention and intervention programs to support trusted leaders who work directly with people who are most likely to commit gun crimes or become gun victims before it's too late."

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"May God bless all those innocent lives in Newtown and all across the country and all of you who have been the victims of gun violence and your families have suffered from it," Biden added while closing out his remarks in the video message. "My heart breaks for you, but we have to act. We can't give up. We got to get it done."

The White House also released a fact sheet Tuesday on steps the administration has taken, including a proposed rule in May to curb the proliferation of ghost guns, which are unserialized guns that law enforcement officials have identified as a threat to public safety.

Biden noted in his speech that steps the administration has taken have also included promoting the safe storage of firearms.

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The administration also made certain American Rescue Plan funding -- $350 billion in state and local funding, and $122 billion in K-12 funding -- available as resources for community violence prevention and intervention programs, which Biden noted in his speech.

The community violence prevention and intervention strategies listed in the fact sheet include community policing, summer jobs for young adults, and substance abuse and mental health services.

The Department of Justice has proposed a rule to restrict accessories that turn pistols into rifles and legislation for states to adopt new "red flag" laws to keep firearms out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others, according to the fact sheet.

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The Justice Department has also expanded a program to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Biden said in the video post, he's also calling in his budget for doubling funding for gun violence prevention research, including examining gun violence as "a public health threat."

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