WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden hosted survivors and family members of victims of mass shootings at a White House event Monday highlighting a new law aimed at preventing such massacres.
Biden celebrated the passage of the law, titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, considered to be the most significant gun legislation in 30 years.
Biden repeatedly said that more has to be done, but that the law is "an important start."
"If this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved. It matters, it matters, but it’s not enough," said Biden.
The president was briefly interrupted during his speech by Manuel Oliver, who lost his son Joaquin in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, who yelled from the audience, “You have to do more than that.”
Biden said that it "makes no sense" that the U.S. military requires its service members to be trained to use the most lethal weapons in the world and undergo background checks and mental health assessments but, "We don’t require the same common-sense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR-15 or some weapon like that."
Biden said he's "determined to ban these weapons again and high-capacity magazines." In addition to those proposals, he called on Congress to pass universal background checks and safe storage measures that would require personal liability for not locking up guns.
Survivors and family members of those killed in the mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe, Uvalde, Buffalo, Highland Park and elsewhere were expected to be in attendance, a White House official said.
Gun safety advocates and elected officials from communities affected by gun violence also joined the president at the event.
The new law Biden touted offers grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhances background checks by including juvenile records, and closes the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from nonspouse dating partners convicted of abuse.
A small group of Democratic and Republican senators crafted the law in the wake of the shootings in May in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. But the bill didn't include two of Biden's priorities: a ban on assault weapons and background checks for all gun purchases, both of which are widely opposed by Republicans in Congress.