Five years to the day after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., President Joe Biden called for the Senate to pass gun legislation to address what he called a “public health epidemic of gun violence.”
“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that,” Biden said in a statement.
Such legislation faces long odds in the Senate amid staunch Republican opposition. Biden also called for so-called “red flag” laws or extreme risk protective orders, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
Biden has repeatedly called for gun reform legislation in the wake of mass shootings this year, including ones in Indianapolis and San Jose, Calif. At least 13 people were injured in a shooting in Austin, Texas, early Saturday.
In April, Biden went it alone on gun reform, issuing executive actions to slow gun violence, including reforms aimed at reining in so-called ghost guns, and ordering the DOJ to produce a new annual report on gun trafficking. Biden also called on the Justice Department to put forward “model” red flag law legislation, which it issued earlier this week.
A lone shooter at the gay Florida club killed 49 people in June 2016, when Biden was serving as vice president. To mark the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting, the victims are being honored with a number of events, including a remembrance ceremony Saturday. Since the shooting, Biden has “stayed in touch” with survivors and victims families, he said in the statement Saturday.
Biden said in the statement that he will soon sign a bill that will make the nightclub a national memorial.
“Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground,” Biden said in the statement. “We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color.”
Biden also called on the Senate to “swiftly” pass the Equality Act, which would bar discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The legislation also faces long odds in the chamber.