President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass new gun restrictions – including a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines – Tuesday when he offered condolences following a fatal mass shooting at a Colorado grocery store.
“I don’t have to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take sensible steps that will save lives in the future,” Biden said at the White House.
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The Boulder, Colorado massacre revived the Washington debate over how best to eradicate gun violence in the United States. Several democratic efforts in recent years to pass gun restrictions have failed in the face of Republican opposition, though the GOP has supported some more modest reform measures.
Boulder Police identified Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, as a suspect in the Colorado shooting that killed 10 people. He was arrested Monday afternoon at the King Soopers grocery store and charged with ten first degree murder.
“I want to tell the community that I am so sorry that this incident happened,” said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold at a press conference on Tuesday morning. “We will do everything in our power to ensure this suspect has a thorough trial and we are conducting a thorough investigation.”
Police respond at a King Sooper grocery store where a gunman opened fire on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado. Ten people were killed in the attack, including a police officer.
Chet Strange | Getty Images
Biden said Tuesday that he was briefed on the shooting by Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray. He said he had also spoken to Colorado Governor Jared Polis and was being kept up to date by local law enforcement officials.
The president said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “devastated” by the shooting and complained that more families had been “crushed by gun violence.” Biden noted that 51-year-old police officer Eric Talley, who first arrived at the site of the shooting, was among the dead.
“Every time a civil servant comes out of his house and puts on this badge, will the family member who just subconsciously said goodbye to miracles get that call, the call his wife got?” Said Biden.
He said he would not speculate on the alleged killer’s motivations “until we have all the facts”. However, the President stressed that lawmakers should not hesitate to take action in response to the violence.
Biden urged Congress to reinstate the ban on offensive weapons and high-capacity magazines. He called on the Senate to “immediately” include two House-approved bills aimed at closing loopholes in the background checking system.
“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said earlier Tuesday that he was determined to bring the legislation to the ground.
“This Senate will debate and address the gun violence epidemic in this country,” said Schumer. “Today our hearts are with the people of Colorado and everyone whose lives have been touched by gun violence.”
Republicans could stand in the way of those bills in a Senate divided 50-50 by party.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said his caucus would review the Democrats’ weapons reform proposals and “have a full, solid discussion” – but he questioned the possibility of a bipartisan settlement.
“There were profound philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats in dealing with gun violence,” McConnell told reporters.
Biden also signed a proclamation on Tuesday ordering flags to be hoisted on half-staff of the White House, military posts, naval ships and all public buildings.
It’s the second time in less than a week that Biden has called for the flags to be lowered after a mass shooting after the deaths of eight people at spas in the Atlanta area.
Prior to Biden’s remarks, former President Barack Obama issued a statement calling on “those who have the power to fight this gun violence epidemic”.
“A pandemic that happens once in a century cannot be the only thing slowing mass shootings in this country,” said Obama’s statement.
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