May 27, 2022 06:08 UTC
  • Gun safety groups push Biden to act, but White House looks to Congress

Gun safety advocates are pushing US President Joe Biden to take stronger measures on his own to curb gun violence after the Texas elementary school shooting, but the White House wants Congress to act first to have a more significant impact.

The White House has spoken with gun safety groups since Tuesday's rampage in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 elementary school students and two teachers were killed - the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade - activists said.

The groups are urging Biden to make an emergency declaration on gun violence, name a gun violence czar, advocate lifting the Senate filibuster if necessary and issue an executive order on background checks for firearms purchases if lawmakers do not pass legislation tightening loopholes in current law.

For the moment, the Biden administration is pressing Congress to pass tighter gun laws that can have more lasting impact than executive action. The White House has been in touch with top Democrats in Congress regarding the next steps on firearms laws.

Democrat-backed bills requiring background checks, banning semi-automatic rifles, and strengthening gun safety measures have failed for a decade in Congress in the face of stalwart Republican opposition and objections from some moderate Democrats and independents. Gun rights advocates believe in a broad interpretation of US constitutional protections for keeping and bearing arms.

Democrats in Congress said Wednesday they would try again on legislation.

The White House is "continuing to look at every tool we have to stop gun violence, with new urgency following the tragic shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, including through additional executive actions," White House spokesman Michael Gwin said in response to questions about the next steps. The president, he said, "has, and will continue, to forcefully press Congress to act."