Saying that “much more needs to be done,” President Joe Biden announced several gun reform steps.
“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they’re passed not a single federal law to reduce gun violence,” the president said Thursday in an event at the White House rose garden.
Biden directed the Justice Department to regulate so-called ghost guns, which are made at home with kits and can be assembled from pieces that do not have serial numbers, thereby evading background checks.
The president also increased funding for the School Violence and Protection Program and asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to create a model “red flag” law for states to follow. These laws allow law enforcement to seize guns from people deemed mentally unstable. Twenty states currently have red flag laws, including Florida.
“We applaud these important first steps on insuring responsible firearms ownership,” said Tony Montalto, co-founder of the group, Stand With Parkland.
His daughter, Gina, was killed in the rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.
“One of the ways to stop these attacks is to give law enforcement the tools they need, and red flag or extreme risk protection laws are that tool, so we ask Congress now, please pass the bill nationally,” Montalto said.
Patricia Oliver became a gun safety activist after she lost her son, Joaquin, in the school shooting.
“I think the fact that they gonna be taking care of the tracing of the guns that are built at home is really important,” Oliver said.
Ryan Petty’s daughter, Alaina, was murdered in the Parkland tragedy, but he has never wavered in his support for gun rights.
“I’m disappointed that once again we’re headed down a path of gun control, we’re penalizing law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals, and I saw very little today that would actually solve the problem of 'gun violence' in the United States,” Petty said. “We’re headed down this same divisive path.”
Petty points out that the president would find bipartisan support for taking measures to prevent suicides.
“The majority of gun deaths in the United States are suicides, and so what we need to be able to do is identify those who are intent on harming themselves and we need to get them the help they need before they take that final action,” Petty said.
Fred Guttenberg’s daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 killed at Stoneman Douglas High. He has been a high-profile gun safety activist for the past three years. Biden invited him to the White House for Thursday’s event.
“There are many days when you feel like you’re on this freight train in the wrong direction, and today the president hit the brakes on that freight train and he changed direction,” Guttenberg said.