President Joe Biden was briefly interrupted by a parent whose son died in a school shooting as he was mobbed by hundreds of gunmen on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday to announce the first bipartisan gun legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. flight. Before he could speak, Dr. Roy Guerrero, a Uvalde pediatrician who treated Robb Elementary School massacre victims, and Garnell Whitfield, Jr., son of Buffalo massacre’s oldest victim, Ruth Whitfield, offer brief remarks first to introduce Biden and Vice. President Kamala Harris. “The dry white roses and the sun-bleached teddy bears were taken out and stored. The rest was an empty feeling in our guts,” Guerrero said.
“It is difficult to be a pediatrician in a community where children do not want to go back to school and parents do not want to be sent for fear of a future attack,” he added. “I spend half the day convincing kids that no one is coming for them and that they are safe in the knowledge that they are safe – but how can I say that I know the weapons used to attack are still there? Free to use? Let it be just the beginning of a movement toward banning assault weapons.”
Whitfield read the names of the victims in the Buffalo shooting, which took the life of his 86-year-old mother, and while he praised Biden and Harris for their work to mitigate gun violence said, “We know that this is only the first step.”
Biden signed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act last month, but the signing was blocked because it came a day after the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Ford decision. Monday gave the president another chance to win the round — but it also came a week after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, that left seven dead and dozens injured. About a week before the Highland Park shooting, Biden took to the stage on the South Lawn with a ribbon on his lapel to honor victims of gun violence. Shortly after he began speaking, Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was killed in the Parkland massacre, interrupted what Biden was saying in open protest. Oliver publicly criticized the legislation. “We have to do more than that!” Oliver shouted. “I’ve been trying to say that for years!” Biden said, “Let him speak,” before continuing his prepared remarks as Oliver was escorted by a staffer.
Later, speaking to reporters, Oliver defended his decision to interrupt Biden — taking issue with the White House making this bipartisan achievement into a “celebration” — and pointing to the community of Uvalde still mourning the loss of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed.
“The word celebration has been used in the wrong way. We were invited to Uvalde this week. Mothers are still crying in Uvalde,” he said. “And meanwhile, we, some way, by being here, clapping and standing ovation, these types of bills, which by the way I welcome, because it will save some lives, while we do that, other people are just getting shot. We cannot accept that.”
Biden named the leaders of the bipartisan Senate negotiations which crafted the legislation, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, Chrisy Murphy, and Thom Tillis, and joked that he hoped he doesn’t get Republican John Cornyn of Texas “in trouble” for praising him, too. Biden and Cornyn shook hands after his remarks.
President Biden said none of the actions he’s calling for infringe on Second Amendment rights, even repeating his support for the Second Amendment, but that “we can’t just stand by” when guns are the “number one killer of children in the United States.”
“Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America … And over the last two decades more high school children have died from gunshots and on-duty police officers on active duty military combined,” Biden said. “We can’t let it happen any longer.”
“With rights come responsibilities. Yes, we have the right to bear arms. But we also have the right to live freely, without fear for our lives in the bakery, the classroom, the playground and the prayer hall.” in the store, in the workplace, in the nightclub, at the festival, in our neighborhoods, on our streets,” he added. Contributed by gun violence survivors and family members of victims of the recent shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, as well as survivors and family members of Columbine, Sandy. Hook and Parkland shootings, etc. But some gun safety advocates complain that’s not good enough.