The Biden administration is celebrating a new milestone in its effort to end gun violence — 500 illegal gun purchases by people under 21 years old stopped thanks to enhanced background checks enacted under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
"By interrupting these illegal gun purchases, we are taking action to stop suicides, deadly domestic violence, and mass shootings. Simply put: this legislation is saving lives,” President Biden said in a statement Friday.
The 2022 law expanded background checks for individuals under 21. Young people with criminal records or who have been determined to be a danger to themselves or the community are flagged under the new checks system.
Speaking on Scripps News, senior White House adviser Stephen Benjamin praised the law for its ability to save lives and called out the success that can be achieved when political parties come together on bipartisan legislation.
"This is not only an important moment that shows the leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but an important moment for the country. It shows what we can do if in fact we work together, and we have so much more that has to happen," he told Scripps News.
Benjamin named a number of gun safety measures he'd like to see enacted across the U.S.
"We need universal background checks all across this country. We've got to make sure we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We've got to have a national red flag law that helps keep guns out of the hands of people who ought not have them. We must have safe storage of firearms," he said.
"There are too many empty seats around dinner tables all around this country right now," said Benjamin," and these are measures that have broad and deep bipartisan support."
Firearms are the leading cause of death among children and young people, according to the CDC.
Everytown for Gun Violence research reports 18- to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older.
The announcement comes one day after a 17-year-old shooter armed with a pump-action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun opened fire at a high school in Perry, Iowa, killing a sixth grader and wounding four other students and a school administrator. Police have not yet said how the shooter obtained the guns used in the attack.
Iowa has few restrictions on gun sales and does not require a permit to purchase a handgun or carry a firearm in public, though it mandates a background check for anyone buying a handgun without a permit.
In September, the White House unveiled the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to assist states in responding to mass shootings and gun violence. The office helped push forward two executive orders last year, one of which provided states with legislation to require safe storage of guns, and the second to assist in how to report and investigate lost or stolen firearms.
The White House on Friday again called for further action from Congress to combat gun violence, including a ban on assault weapons.
"I am proud to have taken more executive action than any president in history to combat gun violence in America, and I will never stop fighting to get even more done,” President Biden said in his statement, adding, “Congress must enact universal background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, end the gun industry’s immunity from liability, and pass a national red flag law. ... It is fully within our power to stop this epidemic."
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