‘The time to act is now’: White House commemorates Parkland shooting, calls for action on gun safety

President Joe Biden released a statement Sunday commemorating the lives lost during the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones,” reads the White House statement. “Like far too many families – and, indeed, like our nation – they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be okay.”

The attack by a gunman on Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in 2018 killed 17 people; survivors later set off the March for Our Lives movement, a national student-led campaign for gun reform.

“This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call,” the president said in the White House statement.

Step by step:How the Parkland school shooting unfolded

“Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets,” the White House declared.

Biden’s policy platform during the transition called for stricter background checks and more stringent regulations on the sale of guns. The White House has not submitted any formal legislation on its gun safety recommendations to Congress.

“We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now,” Biden urged.

On the campaign trail, Biden frequently boasted that he has “taken on the National Rifle Association on the national stage and won — twice,” a reference to legislation he spearheaded in the 1990s that instituted federal background checks for gun sales and enacted a 10-year assault weapon ban.

Gun control activists have already begun pressing the administration. On Feb. 10, White House Domestic Policy Council head Susan Rice and public engagement director Cedric Richmond met virtually with gun-control advocates where they committed to taking “common-sense steps.”

Much of Biden’s gun control policy agenda requires legislation through Congress. But he promised one executive order that would ban the import of semi-automatic rifles, which he has yet to enact.

Other top priorities include banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, implementing a buyback program, and requiring background checks for all gun sales.

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