Biden renews call for assault weapons ban after ‘tragic and senseless’ spate of July 4 shootings

President says ‘epidemic of gun violence is tearing our communities apart’ after mass shootings in Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Baltimore and Chicago

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 05 July 2023 05:04 BST
Joe Biden says he's 'determined' to ban assault weapons

President Joe Biden has issued a fresh appeal for a ban on assault weapons after dozens of people were killed or wounded in mass shootings in the lead-up to Independence Day celebrations.

Five people were shot dead and two boys, aged two and 13, were injured when a gunman armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest opened fire in Philadelphia’s Kingsessing neighbourhood at around 8.30pm on Monday night, according to authorities.

Hours later, three died and 14 were injured in four separate shootings in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mr Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden were also grieving “tragic and senseless shootings” that had occurred in recent days in Baltimore, Lansing, Chicago and Wichita in a July 4 statement.

He said it was “within our power” to ban AR-15-style weapons and high-capacity magazines while also enforcing safe storage of guns and enacting universal background checks.

Mr Biden also marked the one year anniversary of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of seven people at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

Police work the scene of a shooting on 3 July, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Getty Images)

In the wake of the shooting, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Highland Park mayor Nancy Rotering had worked with gun control advocates to ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines in the state.

“Their achievement will save lives. But it will not erase their grief,” Mr Biden said.

“And as we have seen over the last few days, much more must be done in Illinois and across America to address the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our communities apart.”

President Joe Biden has once again called for a ban on assault weapons (Associated Press)

Mr Biden called on other states to follow Illinois’ lead and for Republican lawmakers in Congress to “come to the table on meaningful, commonsense reform”.

In a speech to the National Education Association on Tuesday, Mr Biden said gun reform was urgently needed to protect children and teachers.

“As you know all too well, educators now find themselves in the frontlines of gun violence,” Mr Biden told the association.

“Congress needs to step up, pass common sense gun safety laws to protect our kids and educators, and by the way, arming teachers is not the answer.”

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 21,782 Americans have been killed in shootings halfway through 2023.

The US has experienced 346 mass shootings, when four or more people are shot, and 26 mass murders, according to the archive.

Last June, Congress passed its first new gun control legislation in 28 years in the wake of twin tragedies in Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black shoppers were murdered, and the fatal shooting of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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