Feb 14, 2022
Four years after a gunman murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors of the mass shooting, other activists, and progressive lawmakers on Monday demanded urgent action from President Joe Biden and Congress.
"Biden has been a friend but not a leader."
In interviews and actions marking the fourth anniversary of the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, advocates argued the president hasn't gone far enough. As March for Our Lives co-founder David Hogg put it: "Biden has been a friend but not a leader."
"He's made small steps but it's not enough. The president hasn't been receptive to our demands," Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 shooting, told CNN. "We expected this from [former President Donald] Trump, but we're shocked that it's coming from Biden."
"The buck stops with you," Hogg tweeted at Biden. "Fulfill your promises."
\u201cWe are thinking of @manueloliver00 and @patriciapadauy who lost their son, Joaquin, 4 years ago today in the Parkland shooting. \n\n@ChangeTheRef is working to push our leaders to prevent tragedies like theirs from happening again and we are thankful for their continued leadership.\u201d— Brady | United Against Gun Violence (@Brady | United Against Gun Violence) 1644856100
Manuel Oliver's son, Joaquin, was among the 14 students and three staffers killed in Parkland. Another 17 people were injured in the shooting and two survivors later died by suicide.
Oliver--along with two others--was arrested outside the White House Monday after climbing a crane, recording a video posted on Twitter, and unveiling a banner that featured an image of his child and a message for Biden: "45K people died from gun violence on your watch."
In another video recorded on the ground with the crane in view, Oliver's wife, Patricia, urged Biden to pay attention to the message, which is also the focus of a new campaign.
The Olivers co-founded Change the Ref, which joined with Guns Down America and March for Our Lives on Monday to launch ShockMarket.org, an initiative that tracks various figures--including the number of gun deaths and injuries as well as mass shootings--since Biden took office in January 2021, using data from Gun Violence Archive.
\u201cAnnouncing the Shock Market \u2013 designed to track this nation\u2019s record gun violence losses under the Biden Administration. Check out https://t.co/owXMThHNQE and demand immediate action from @POTUS and his administration \u2013 because these market trends are impossible to ignore.\u201d— Guns Down America (@Guns Down America) 1644856438
Appearing on CNN's "New Day," Hogg said Monday that "I'm disappointed, and 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."
The show shared clips of Biden's campaign promises on gun control.
\u201c"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\u201d— CNN This Morning (@CNN This Morning) 1644844395
Last April, a few months after taking office, the president announced some initial actions intended to address what his administration called the nation's "gun violence public health epidemic." He released a broader gun violence prevention strategy in June.
In a lengthy statement Monday that noted his "comprehensive plan," Biden said "we mourn with" the Parkland families and acknowledged the "extraordinary movement" working to ensure that "the voices of victims and survivors and responsible gun owners are louder" than those of gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The president pointed out he has "asked Congress to pass a budget that provides an additional half-billion dollars for proven strategies we know reduce violent crime" and requested more funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals.
Biden also said that "Congress must do much more--beginning with requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers."
Hogg, on "New Day," noted the filibuster--which has stalled various bills in the evenly split Senate--and emphasized action Biden can take without support from lawmakers.
Highlighting that young people helped elect Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020, a public safety plan from March for Our Lives--founded in the wake of the Parkland shooting--calls on them to "appoint at least two senior-level positions in the White House: a national director of gun violence prevention (GVP) and a director of youth engagement."
As the document, released last year, explains:
The director of GVP will be tasked with operationalizing agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and others which have long been structurally weakened by the gun lobby. The director would likewise empanel a committee to study and recommend related reforms. The director of youth engagement should be a young Millennial or Gen Z, and serve on the Domestic Policy Council, advising the president and senior staff on issues of importance to young Americans.
The organization's plan also says that "at least $1 billion in emergency and discretionary agency funding must be directed towards community violence intervention programming and increased data collection and research on gun violence prevention."
Progressives in Congress also used the anniversary to urge gun violence prevention. "The students, teachers, and loved ones who lost someone deserve common-sense gun safety laws. We've passed those reforms in the House. Now it's on the Senate to deliver," tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), one of several lawmakers who shared photos of the 17 victims.
\u201cFour years ago today, we lost these 17 lives in just 6 minutes during one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.\n\nThousands more have been lost to gun violence in communities across the US since. These deaths are preventable. Congress must act. #NeverAgain #MSDStrong\u201d— Rep. Barbara Lee (@Rep. Barbara Lee) 1644860869
Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.), who also posted photos of those killed in Parkland, said that "Congress has an obligation to honor their lives by passing real, common-sense gun reform NOW."
Noting that "just this past weekend, 111 people across our country lost their lives to gun violence and another 231 were injured," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also called for action by the upper chamber.
"Today, as we remember the horrific Parkland shooting," she said, "it's time for the Senate to end the filibuster, pass common-sense gun reform, and save lives."
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