WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden marked 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut on Wednesday by saying Americans should bear “social guilt” for failing to adequately address gun violence in the decade since then.
The school riot on December 14, 2012, when a heavily armed man killed 20 young children and six educators, shocked the country and has been followed by an epidemic of mass shootings.
“We should have social 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,” Biden said in a statement.
“We owe it to the brave young survivors and families who lost part of their soul 10 years ago to turn their pain into purpose,” he said.
The Democratic president has renewed his promises to secure a new ban on assault weapons in the United States and has pressed lawmakers to pass legislation before his party loses control of the US House of Representatives on next month.
In his statement, Biden noted that in June he signed a bipartisan bill into law that includes provisions intended to help states keep guns out of the reach of those who are considered a danger to themselves or others.
“Still, we must do more. I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America,” he said.
“It’s enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill large numbers of people,” Biden said. “It is in our power to do this, not only for the lives of the innocent lost, but also for the survivors who still have hope.”
Former Democratic President Barack Obama, who was in the White House when the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, said in a statement that he considered that day “the darkest day of my presidency” but more recently “I have felt that slowly, steadily constant, the tide is turning; that real change is possible. And I feel that way in large part because of the families at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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