On the fourth anniversary of the Parkland high school massacre on Monday, President Joe Biden urged Congress to take action on gun control while a father of one of the victims was arrested for hanging a banner criticizing the administration from a crane near the White House.
‘My Administration stands with those working to end this epidemic of gun violence,’ Biden said in a statement on Monday.
He called on lawmakers to pass a budget with his request ‘that provides an additional half billion dollars for proven strategies we know reduce violent crime — accountable community policing and community violence intervention.
Fourteen students and three staff members at were killed during the February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – the deadliest high school shooting in the nation.
Manuel Oliver, the father of 17-year-old Joaquin ‘Guac’ Oliver, who was killed during the shooting, protested a lack of action from the Biden administration.
Oliver was arrested on Monday after he unfurled a sign from a crane just a few blocks away from the White House.
’45K people died from gun violence on your watch!’ the sign says, featuring a photo of Joaquin Oliver and directing people to a website with statistics on gun violence during the Biden administration.
‘The whole world will listen to Joaquin today,’ Oliver said in a video he posted on Twitter. He noted he’s requested a meeting with Biden.
Since the Parkland shooting, gun violence at schools has risen.
There were at least 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, according to a tally last week by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The figure is nearly four times the average for that period since Everytown began tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013.
Biden has acted to crack down on ‘ghost guns,’ homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and that are often purchased without a background check.
He has worked to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in a Boulder, Colorado, shooting that left 10 people dead. He’s also encouraged cities to use their COVID-19 relief dollars to help manage gun violence.
But these efforts fall far short of major change.
In his first year in office, Biden’s efforts to pass legislation to tighten gun laws haven’t left the drawing board. He also was forced to pull his nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
There are limits to what the president can do when there is no appetite in Congress to pass gun legislation. The strongest effort in recent years failed, even after 20 children and six adults were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Parkland happened six years later.
David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, also was critical of Biden’s efforts.
‘I’m disappointed. Frankly, if I could say one thing to the President, it’s that we need you to go out and act right now before the next Parkland happens. There are things you can do right now to help prevent it that you have not done,’ he said on CNN’s New Day on Monday.
"I'm disappointed. Frankly, if I could say one thing to the President, it's that we need you to go out and act right now before the next Parkland happens. There are things you can do right now to help prevent it that you have not done." @davidhogg111 pic.twitter.com/wkof92yAvf
— New Day (@NewDay) February 14, 2022
Biden said he’s asked members of Congress to provide funding to help reduce violent crime and said they must pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers.
‘We can never bring back those we’ve lost,’ Biden said. ‘But we can come together to fulfill the first responsibility of our government and our democracy: to keep each other safe. For Parkland, for all those we’ve lost, and for all those left behind, it is time to uphold that solemn obligation.’
A trial to determine the fate of the Parkland shooter, who pleaded guilty, is scheduled for April. A jury will determine whether he gets the death penalty or life in prison.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida ordered the state’s government buildings, parks and other facilities to fly their flags at half-staff on Monday to mark the anniversary.
‘The sacrifices of these heroes, as well as the brave actions of first responders, will never be forgotten,’ DeSantis said Friday in a statement.
The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center studied school attacks nationwide from 2006-18 and reported that most attackers were bullied and that warning signs were there.
Most important, the researchers said, about 94% talked about their attacks and what they intended to do in some way, whether orally or electronically, and 75% were detected because they talked about their plots. About 36% were thwarted within two days of their intended attacks.