President Biden on Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by insisting on the need for stricter gun laws, including an assault weapons ban.
“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem. We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again. We owe it to the courageous young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul ten years ago to turn their pain into purpose,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
On Dec. 14, 2012, a heavily armed gunman rampaged through the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 first graders and six educators.
Mr. Biden, who served as the Obama administration’s point man on gun policy after Sandy Hook, has advocated stricter gun laws since becoming president. He has called for banning assault weapons, including high-powered guns or semi-automatic long rifles such as the AR-15.
The president has had some recent legislative success on gun policy. This year, Congress passed a measure that enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21 years old, provides billions of dollars for mental health services and blocks convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years.
While Mr. Biden trumpeted those victories in his statement, he called on Congress to adopt more stringent gun laws.
“I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America. Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers. It is within our power to do this — for the sake of not only the lives of the innocents lost, but for the survivors who still hope,” Mr. Biden said.
The president on Wednesday also issued a proclamation to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.
“As we remember and grieve those victims and their families, we acknowledge the pain that continues to endure. That horrific day changed the lives of every survivor, many of whom still carry physical and emotional wounds. It forced parents across America to wonder whether the goodbye hug they gave their child before school would be the last they ever have, it was for the Newtown families,” he said
In the decade since the shooting, many of the Sandy Hook survivors and victims’ families have advocated for gun control, started foundations to honor those who were lost and pushed for stronger school security measures.
In his proclamation, Mr. Biden honored the work of the survivors’ and victims’ loved ones.
“They have suffered unimaginable loss but have turned their pain into purpose,” he said in the proclamation.
“Working alongside other families of gun violence victims across America, they have helped shape a new movement for safety, grounded in love for our children, unwavering resilience in the face of grief, and a deeply held dream for a better future,” the proclamation reads.
Mr. Biden last week joined survivors and victims’ families at a vigil for victims of gun violence. He became the first president to attend the National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, which began in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre.
For 10 years, parents, siblings, spouses and survivors of Sandy Hook have attended the vigil at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., to honor the shooting victims. The group has been joined by other Americans who have lost loved ones in mass shootings.
Mr. Biden has called for stricter gun laws, including an assault weapons ban, in the wake of recent mass shootings. In November, a Walmart employee in Virginia opened fire and killed six people in a break room; five people were killed and 18 injured when a gunman opened fire in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and three University of Virginia football players were killed in a shooting on a bus after a field trip.