- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2021

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday denounced gun violence and anti-Asian crimes in the country after an Atlanta killing spree left eight people dead.

“Even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America,” Mr. Obama tweeted. “Although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.”

Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested Tuesday night in connection with deadly shootings at three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area earlier Tuesday. While six of the eight victims were Asian women, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department dismissed speculation early in the investigation that the murders were racially motivated. The suspect later told investigators his actions were not racially motivated but instead related to his sexual addiction, authorities said.

Democrats have used the shootings as a criticism of former President Donald Trump, blaming the uptick in anti-Asian violence in the country on his rhetoric toward Chinese people, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday: “I think there’s no question that some of the damaging rhetoric that we saw during the prior administration, blaming — calling COVID, you know, the ‘Wuhan virus’ or other things led to, you know, perceptions of the Asian American community that are inaccurate, unfair that have … elevated threats against Asian Americans, and we’re seeing that around the country.”

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris plan to meet with Asian American leaders in Atlanta on Friday.

“Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans, and it’s troubling,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday.

In his tweets, Mr. Obama said the shootings were “another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society.”

“Michelle and I pray for the victims, their families, everyone grieving these needless and devastating killings — and we urge meaningful action that will save lives,” he wrote.

Since Tuesday’s shooting, gun control advocates have set their sights on Georgia’s no-wait gun laws after the suspect was reportedly able to legally purchase a firearm in Cherokee County on the morning of the shootings, Newsweek reported.  

Unlike many states, Georgia does not require a so-called “cool down” period between the time a gun purchase is made to when the buyer can physically obtain the weapon.

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