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Reporters pushed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday on why President Biden isn’t doing more to stem gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo. , New York.
“The president can’t solve this problem alone, he needs Congress to act,” Jean-Pierre told reporters several times Thursday as reporters pressed the White House on what executive actions Biden could take.
The comments echoed Biden’s speech after the massacre in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, when an 18-year-old walked into Robb Elementary School and gunned down dozens of children and teachers, killing 21 people. mass shootings, with Democrats pushing a slew of gun control measures.
But reporters at the first White House press briefing after the Uvalde shooting discussed many possible actions Biden could take, such as creating a gun czar or a gun task force, canceling a vacation or tell Congress not to leave before we resolve the issue. Some have questioned why Biden hasn’t done more in his decades as a leader in Washington to fight mass shootings.
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Gun control advocacy organizations like Brady have called on the president to declare a national emergency over gun violence to free up additional government resources, which Reuters journalist Steve Holland mentioned in the briefing. Jean-Pierre listed all future actions the administration could take unilaterally, but reiterated the administration’s past achievements.
Jean-Pierre pointed to the administration’s allocation of $10 billion in US bailout funding to fight gun crime. The Justice Department “released a tough new rule to stem the flow of ghost weapons, which are increasingly finding their way to crime scenes and are the weapons of choice for terrorists and criminals,” Jean said. -Rock. The administration has also adopted a zero-tolerance policy for gun dealers who sell firearms illegally. Biden released a list of executive orders in April 2021 aimed at stemming gun violence.
“This president has done more through executive actions than any other president in his first year in office,” Jean-Pierre said.
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Later in the briefing, New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear said Biden’s long engagement on gun issues wasn’t exactly “a plus.”
“Isn’t it more of an indictment than a benefit to say that the current president has been involved in this…for decades?” Shear asked. “And it’s not fixed. These things happen over and over again,” Shear said.
“We’re also frustrated. We’re also angry. I’ve said it earlier and I’ll say it again: this is a president who has done more via executive actions, that’s how bad it is. a priority for him… than any president in his first year,” replied Jean-Pierre.
ABC’s Kristen Welker asked why the administration was fulfilling Biden’s campaign promise to bring Republicans and Democrats together. Jean-Pierre said that was exactly what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was trying to do in Congress. Welker also asked why gun violence was not the top priority, above the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“I would say that has been a top priority,” Jean-Pierre said. “I’m not going to list priorities one, two and three. What I can tell you is that it was a top priority, literally. He started working on that the first two days.”
As for creating a special czar to handle mass shooting issues, Welker pointed out that former President Barack Obama appointed then-Vice President Biden to lead the gun violence task force. in 2012. “Is the president considering charging his vice president [Kamala Harris] to try to do something about this issue?” asked Welker.
Jean-Pierre said the administration already has a whole-of-government approach, led by Ambassador Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser.
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In the Senate, several leading Democrats announced Thursday that up to a dozen Republican senators have expressed interest in helping draft a gun bill.
“There are at least 6 to 12 [Republicans] who have gone beyond general expressions of interest to review drafts and language of legislation that may pass,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. “I will let them announce when they are ready who they are. But next week will be a testing period as we see who exactly is ready to put signatures on paper.”