During his speech, Biden—who has announced a number of executive actions including efforts aimed at restricting homemade “ghost guns”—also urged Congress to take action.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,” Biden said, later taking a moment to highlight a mass shooting this week in South Carolina that left five people dead.
“Enough prayers,” Biden said later. “Time for some action.” The president also criticized the “phony arguments” of those who argue that gun law reform constitutes an attack on the Second Amendment.
Watch Biden’s full remarks, as well as those of Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland, below.
This week, the Biden-Harris administration unveiled what they describe as “six initial actions” aimed at addressing the gun violence “public health epidemic.” Among those six actions are a proposed rule on “ghost guns” from the Justice Department within 30 days, the publication of model “red flag” legislation within 60 days, the launch of an annual report on firearms trafficking, and more.
Ahead of Biden’s speech on Thursday, the student-led gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives issued a statement to Complex and other outlets noting that “more remains to be done” after Biden’s executive actions. Read their full statement below:
“After struggling to be seen, heard and valued by the former administration, President Biden’s executive actions to address gun violence are a welcomed pivot toward human-centered policies that will create a safer society. Young people have called for bold, forceful action to end this crisis and we are encouraged to see the administration begin to fulfill some of its campaign promises, especially in the wake of a series of preventable gun tragedies.
Just last week, the White House announced a $5 billion investment into community-based violence prevention programs—a strategy pioneered by frontline Black activists that is proven to de-escalate conflicts before they end with guns. This is a critical step toward treating the gun violence epidemic as the public health crisis that it is, and we will keep fighting to protect this investment and reimagine public safety. Today’s executive order to track “ghost guns,” or untraceable firearms assembled from kits, will be another important tool to reduce the kinds of preventable everyday gun violence that don’t usually happen with assault rifles. Instead, they inflict trauma that isn’t covered by national news, disproportionately hurting and killing people of color.
Even so, there remains more to be done. We’ve called on President Biden to issue executive orders that close the boyfriend loophole, and hold gun manufacturers accountable by revoking licenses from manufacturers who break the law. We are hopeful that the Department of Justice will prioritize these issues in their reporting and investigation. We’ve also urged the president to appoint a Director of Gun Violence Prevention, reflecting the understanding that this crisis disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable populations, and requires the full weight of our government to bring innovative, comprehensive solutions.
We’re looking forward to working with the president’s nominee for Director of the ATF, David Chipman, who has been a leader in the gun violence prevention movement. We know that enforcement alone will not keep us safe from gun violence, and we’re encouraged that the president appears to think so too.
Long after the ink dries on these executive orders, we will continue to work with federal legislators to ensure the swift passage of the entire American Jobs Plan, and work with state and local government to ensure we effectively distribute resources directly to communities in need as a method of gun violence prevention.”
Last month, a bipartisan House coalition passed a pair of bills focused on closing loopholes in the gun background check process. Per Biden, Congress should not only put their weight behind closing those loopholes, but they should go even further by—among other things—closing stalking-related loopholes that can allow for people determined by courts to be abusers to possess firearms.