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On Parkland shooting anniversary, Biden calls for tougher gun laws

US president vows to push efforts to require background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines

A makeshift memorial erected in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, days after the shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead, February 18, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images via JTA)
A makeshift memorial erected in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, days after the shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead, February 18, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images via JTA)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to enact “commonsense” gun law reforms, three years after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“This administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call,” Biden said in a statement marking the Valentine’s Day shooting in 2018 that left 17 people dead and brought fresh attention to America’s lax gun laws.

“We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer.”

Biden said he wants Congress to pass laws that would require background checks on all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The confessed school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time, was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and fired between 100 and 150 rounds in a rampage that killed 14 students and three adult staff at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Biden said Congress must also eliminate “immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

Cruz was able to buy the assault rifle legally, despite having known mental health problems.

Attendees at several events to honor of the 17 that were killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, hug as they gather, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, at Trails End Park in Parkland, Fla. (AP/Wilfredo Lee)

Even in a country that has grown inured to mass shootings and gun violence, the Florida shooting sparked outrage across the US and prompted fresh demands for firearms control.

But with Donald Trump in the White House and the Republicans controlling the Senate at the time, legislation approved by the Democrats in the House of Representatives went nowhere.

Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday said the House would try again.

“We will enact these and other life-saving bills and deliver the progress that the Parkland community and the American people deserve and demand,” she said in a statement.

Despite polls finding most Americans in favor of some sort of gun law reforms, successive US administrations have been powerless to pass legislation.

“The time to act is now,” Biden said.

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