WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden ordered the flag over the White House to “yet again” be lowered to half-staff Wednesday after a gunman killed at least eight people at a light rail yard in California.
He also issued a one word plea: “Enough.”
Biden said Congress should immediately “heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”
“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation,” Biden said in a statement. “We can, and we must, do more.”
The president said he was fulfilling his solemn duty to lower the White House flag just weeks after doing so following shootings in George, Colorado, South Carolina and Indiana.
Biden directed the White House flag, as well as those at all other federal properties, to be flown at half-staff until Sunday’s sunset.
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In April, Biden declared gun violence an “epidemic and an international embarrassment.” He announced half a dozen executive actions aimed at curbing the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, or untraceable weapons that can be constructed from parts purchased online, as well as tightening regulations on the kind of stabilizing braces for pistols used in the Boulder, Colorado, shooting that left 10 people dead.
The orders, billed as the administration’s first steps to tackle gun violence, fell short of Biden’s campaign pledge to reinstate an assault weapons ban, create a voluntary gun buyback program and send a bill to Congress to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers and close background check loopholes on his first day in office.
Biden backs House bills that would strengthen background checks for gun buyers and close the so-called Charleston loophole, which allows gun sales to proceed without a completed background check if three business days have lapsed.
The bills have broad public support but have languished in an evenly divided Senate, where Democrats would need to maintain their razor-thin majority while also finding 10 Republican votes.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian.