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Biden demands Congress act on gun violence after latest mass shooting

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A photo of the suspect of a shooting at Michigan State University, released by local police./AFP
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Feb 15, 2023 - 01:34 AM

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden called on Congress Tuesday to act against America’s epidemic of gun violence, one day after a new massacre on a Michigan university campus killed three people and injured five.

As the leader of a nation plagued by daily shootings, Biden said he had promised the state’s Democratic governor the “deployment of all necessary federal law enforcement.”

The gunman shot his victims, all students, during a rampage on the Michigan State University (MSU) campus before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound several hours later.

At an emotional press conference in Lansing, the capital of the north-central state, police said the 43-year-old suspect, Anthony McRay, had no affiliation with the school and had been found dead around midnight on Monday.

At the briefing, a visibly shaken Governor Gretchen Whitmer called the issue of gun violence a “uniquely American problem.”

Speaking to reporters, she said the university had become “another place that is supposed to be about community and togetherness shattered by bullets and bloodshed.”

Biden drove the point home in two successive White House statements.

“Too many American communities have been devastated by gun violence,” he said.

“I have taken action to combat this epidemic in America, including a historic number of executive actions and the first significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, but we must do more,” he said.

The shooting occurred on the eve of the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018, in which 14 students and three staff members were killed.

The shooting should “cause every American to exclaim ‘enough’ and demand that Congress take action,” Biden said.

Slow progress 

Biden has unsuccessfully called on Congress to reinstate a national ban on assault rifles, which existed from 1994 to 2004, but is running up against opposition from Republicans who are staunch defenders of the constitutional right to bear arms and have had a narrow majority in the House of Representatives since January.

After shots rang out in a campus building where two students were killed early Monday evening, thousands of students were ordered to shelter in place.

The gunman fled to the students’ union, where he killed one more student, sparking a major police operation as officers swarmed the 5,000-acre campus.

Police received a tip from a local resident after quickly releasing security camera images of a Black man in a baggy blue jacket and red shoes.

Interim Deputy Chief Chris Rozman of the university’s police said Tuesday at a press conference that authorities still have “absolutely no idea what the motive was.”

He said authorities had recovered a handgun and searched a residence linked to the suspect.

Gun violence is alarmingly common in the United States, a country where there are more guns than people and where attempts to clamp down on their spread are always met with stiff resistance.

The shooting was the second on a school campus in the midwestern US state in 15 months, Representative Elissa Slotkin underscored at a press conference, saying, “If this is not a wake-up call to do something, I don’t know what is.”

In November 2021, four students were killed and seven other people wounded when a 15-year-old male student opened fire at Oxford High School in the rural town of Oxford, Michigan.

“I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools,” said Slotkin, calling for action on gun violence.

Around 50,000 students are enrolled at MSU, a top institution in the United States, the bulk of them undergraduates, according to the university’s website.

Tens of thousands of people die every year in the United States after being shot, and many more are wounded.

Eleven people were shot dead last month when an elderly man opened fire in a dance hall in California, where locals were celebrating Lunar New Year.

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