President Joe Biden marked the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a message on gun control.
Fourteen students and three educators were killed on Feb. 14, 2018, when a former student opened fire on campus with an AR-15 rifle.
“On this difficult day, we mourn with the Parkland families whose lives were upended in an instant; who had to bury a piece of their soul deep in the earth,” Biden wrote. “We pray too for those still grappling with wounds both visible and invisible. And, as we remember those lost in Parkland, we also stand with Americans in every corner of our country who have lost loved ones to gun violence or had their lives forever altered by a shooting, in tragedies that made headlines and in ones that did not.”
The president called for the voices of the victims and survivors to be “louder than the voices of gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.”
“I have put forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun crime that includes curbing the proliferation of “ghost” guns, cracking down on gun dealers who willfully violate the law, issuing model extreme risk protection order legislation for states, and promoting safe firearm storage, among other efforts,” his statement reads. “I’ve asked Congress to pass a budget that provides an additional half billion dollars for proven strategies we know reduce violent crime — accountable community policing and community violence interventions. I have also requested increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals. And Congress must do much more — beginning with requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers.”
Since the Parkland shooting, gun violence at schools has only risen. The gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety says there were at least 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31.
Biden said he’s asked members of Congress to provide funding to help reduce violent crime and said they must pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers.
“We can never bring back those we’ve lost,” Biden said. “But we can come together to fulfill the first responsibility of our government and our democracy: to keep each other safe. For Parkland, for all those we’ve lost, and for all those left behind, it is time to uphold that solemn obligation.”
The accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, pleaded guilty to murder last year and a jury will decide whether he gets the death penalty.