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Biden calls gun violence ‘national health crisis’; Harris says ‘past time’ for new gun control

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris both advocated for strict new gun control measures during a remembrance for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

On Monday, the eighth anniversary of the attack, Biden released a statement in which he called gun violence a “national health crisis,” leading some to believe he may, as president, use that as a basis for new executive action on firearms.

“To the grandparents, parents, siblings, children, spouses, and fellow broken and healing hearts of Sandy Hook, I know,” the statement said. “No matter how long it’s been, every time you talk about it, you relive it as though you just heard the news. Eight years later, I know the pain never fully heals.”

He went on to say that Dec. 14, 2012, was “the saddest day we had in the White House,” while praising parents in Sandy Hook, Conn., for “working to change our laws and our culture around gun violence and how we protect and nurture our children.”

“I know it can feel like an impossible task. Since this December day eight years ago, your nightmare has been felt by thousands of other families in our country who have lost a piece of their soul in other schools, a shopping mall, a movie theatre, a club, a house of worship, in their neighborhoods, and in their homes,” Biden said, according to the statement.

“Some of these tragedies make national headlines, so many more do not. Every year, more than 30,000 people die from gun violence across America—a statistic we would associate with war in a far-off place. Countless more are left with a lifetime of injuries and trauma,” he said, adding that gun violence is a “national health crisis” that must be dealt with, and that “thoughts and prayers…[are] not enough.”

In a tweet, Harris wrote, “Today marks 8 years since 20 first-graders and 6 educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. To honor the lives lost in this terrible tragedy, it’s past time we implement common-sense gun safety reforms to keep our children safe.”

It’s not clear what measures either Biden or Harris may be contemplating either in terms of executive actions or changes to the law. But on their campaign website, Biden promotes a program to “buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities.”

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Such a program would also include a national registry, which some Second Amendment advocates have said violates the letter and spirit of the infringement clause.

“Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act,” the site notes.

Breitbart News’ firearms correspondent AWR Hawkins, in response to Biden’s statement, said the figure the former vice president cited denoting annual gun deaths is misleading.

“The claim swells actual gun violence deaths by 66 percent, as over 20,000 of the annual firearm-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides, not homicides. Because of this, more gun control is not a solution,” he wrote Monday.

By comparison, “at least 38,800” were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2019, according to Safer America, down just 2 percent from 39,404 the previous year.

Neither Biden nor Harris has labeled vehicular deaths a national health crisis, however.

Jon Dougherty

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