President Joe Biden speaks Monday during an event to celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
July 11 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden hosted an event at the White House on Monday to celebrate new bipartisan gun safety restrictions and indicate a path toward safer communities.
Congress passed and Biden signed the Safer Communities Act last month.
Democrats in both chambers and several Republicans approved the $13 billion bill, which includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The law also makes changes to the process when someone age 18 to 21 goes to buy a firearm, closes the so-called "boyfriend loophole" and encourages states to create or enhance red-flag laws.
At Monday's event, Biden hosted families who have been affected by gun violence, including the recent supermarket shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
"Nothing can bring back your loved ones, but what we did here is to make sure that other families don't have to experience the same loss and pain that you've experienced," the president said. "You have felt and feel the price of inaction."
Biden said the new law will save lives.
There was still some frustration in the audience on the South Lawn of the White House. Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland, Fla., school shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, stood and pointed at Biden and called on him to "do more" to regulate firearms.
Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland, Fla., school shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, addresses President Joe Biden on Monday during an event commemorating the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on the South Lawn of the White House. Oliver urged Biden to "do more." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
"What we're doing here today is real," Biden added. "It's vivid. It's relevant. The action we take today is a step designed to make our nation the kind of nation we should be. It's about the most fundamental things in the life of our children and our loved ones."
Biden said it is time for the country to match "thought and prayers" for victims and their families with action.
"That's what we're doing here today," he said. "Despite the many naysayers, we can make meaningful progress.
"More has to be done. The provisions in this new legislation will save lives. It's a call to action for all of us to do more. The takeaway from this is how we're opening the door to get much more done."
Several people who have been recently affected by gun violence spoke at the event.
"It is an honor to be here and celebrate the first major gun legislation in 30 years," Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde, said to applause at the start of the event.
"I spend half of my days convincing kids that no one is coming for them," he added. "But how do I say that knowing that the very weapons used in the attack are still freely available?"
"For 30 years, our nation has failed to pass meaningful gun violence legislation," Vice President Kamala Harris said. "Again and again, Americans have called for common sense action to protect our communities. Last month, their call was finally answered."
The White House said earlier Monday that Biden will build on the law's passage by proposing $32 billion in additional funding to fight crime, including $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for federal, state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs.
"There is so much more that can and must be done to save lives," the White House said in a statement. "The president will continue to urge Congress to take further legislative action to keep dangerous guns out of dangerous hands, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, strengthening background checks and enacting safe storage laws."
A demonstrator holds an "ENOUGH" flag on the National Mall during a March For Our Lives demonstration against gun violence in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo