WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – President Joe Biden will attend the inaugural National Safer Communities Summit Friday as he and other Democrats spotlight the issue of gun reform. The White House said the President plans to use his visit to the summit as a bully pulpit to advocate for further measures, including an assault weapons ban.
The National Safer Communities Summit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which expanded resources and funding for school safety, background checks, and mental health resources.
“It’s a big deal to have the President in Connecticut. It’s a bigger deal to have him at National Safer Communities Summit,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) who is helping to organize the event. “This is a really important moment for the gun safety movement. It’s been a year since we passed the first gun safety bill of any significance in 30 years. It saved lives. Gun violence rates in many cities are coming down in 2023 and the President is going to be there with advocates to celebrate what we did, to plan for the future, and also to get an update on how well this bill is being implemented.”
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting survivor, Jordan Gomes, was among the people who rallied outside the Capitol this week for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and universal background checks. She was 9-years-old when a gunman killed 26 children and adults at her school. By the age of 14, Gomes joined the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, a youth division of the Newtown Action Alliance. Now at 20-years-old, she said the President’s visit to Connecticut helps to give a voice to the victims of gun violence.
“I think the American people want to see, at the simplest most base level, is proof that their representatives are working together past the political divide. You know, I think we can all acknowledge that gun violence is a problem. I don’t think that that’s a partisan or crazy idea. I think everybody just has a lot of different ideas about how to address it. And it’s about coming together and figuring out equitable solutions that work for communities across America, prioritizing the voices of affected communities, individuals, specifically survivors, and particularly in groups of people that maybe don’t always make the news,” Gomes said.
Gomes called the issue of gun violence ‘multifaceted.’
“It’s a tree with many roots, you know. And, I think we have amazing, dedicated individuals that are hacking it… tackling it from every necessary angle. I would say there’s a couple key pieces of legislation that I believe will do so much to end gun violence and to reduce this epidemic that’s affecting our country. Banning assault weapons is being number one that I can stand up here and say would work. We’ve seen it work in the past. We will see it work again. Improvements to the background check system, implementation of red flag laws, and that includes educating communities on how to actually use these laws so that they don’t go into effect and they’re not taking advantage of properly making sure that survivors and affected communities have the resources that they need,” said Gomes.
Murphy said the 2022 Safer Communities Act proved that gun reform can also be bipartisan. At the summit, he wants to learn more about how communities are using the federal funding to improve school safety and background checks.
“The only way we got the bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed last year, despite NRA opposition, is because it did a lot of things all at once. It did change gun laws. It gave prosecutors more tools to unwind gun trafficking rings. But, it also put $15 billion, that’s a lot of money, into school safety, mental health, community safety. There’s no one answer to this plague of gun violence. Yes, it is mostly our nation’s ridiculously loose gun laws. But we also have to help kids in crisis. We also have to help our schools become more welcoming places. And, the good news is that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act shows you how you can put all of those things in one place and build bipartisan support. That’s what we’re going to have to do in the future,” said Murphy.
Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida believes Democrats are focused on the wrong solutions. He believes democrats who want to reduce crime need to focus on the border, funding police, and getting people back to work.
This week, Scott marked the 7th anniversary of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting.
“They (Democrats) don’t support anything that would reduce crime. But all they focus on, the Democrats focus on, is taking away guns from law abiding Americans. We have the second amendment. I’m going to support it,” he said.
The National Rifle Association issued this statement when asked for comment about the summit and the President’s visit:
“The NRA has maintained for decades that laws need to be enforced and criminals must be held responsible for their actions. Much of the crime in America can be attributed to soft-on-criminal policies including, but not limited to, no-cash bail, a revolving door prison system, plea bargaining and a lack of prosecutions. More often than not, people who commit crimes have criminal histories and untreated mental health problems. America’s violent crime rate will drop significantly if lawmakers compel the enforcement of laws and punish criminals.”
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