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tv   President Biden Attorney General on Gun Violence Prevention  CSPAN  April 8, 2021 3:11pm-3:52pm EDT

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eastern on c-span, online at, or listen live with the free c-span radio app. president biden said today the justice department would issue a proposed rule to curb the proliferation of so-called ghost gun's which would allow a gun to be assembled from pieces with no serial numbers. he promoted red flag laws which would allow families to petition courts to block people from obtaining firearms of the present a danger to themselves or others. this event with the president and the attorney general was held in the rose garden.
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vice president harris: good morning. i have seen gun violence up close. i have seen with photographs. i have seen with my own two eyes what a bullet can do to a human body. i've held hands of parents who have lost a child. i have seen children who were traumatized by the loss of a parent or sibling. and i have fought my entire career to end violence and to pass reasonable gun safety laws. time and again, as progress has stalled, we have all asked what are we waiting for? because we are not waiting for a tragedy -- i know that.
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we've had more tragedy than we can bear. we aren't waiting for solutions either because the solutions exist. they already exist. people on both sides of the aisle want action, real people on both sides of the aisle want action. all that is left is the will and the courage to act. [applause] president joe biden has the will and the courage to act. [applause] as a united states senator, joe biden took on the gun lobby not once, but twice, and he won. in 1993, he worked to pass the brady handgun violation prevention act.
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it established a background check system and has kept more than 3 million firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. a year later, he worked to pass another law to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for 10 years. as vice president, joe biden led the efforts to reduce gun violence. we were reminiscing he and i talked back then about his work. i was attorney general of california. his work resulted in nearly two dozen actions, from narrowing the loophole, to expanding funding for mental health services. as you will hear, president joe
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biden is a leader with great will, great determination, and greater empathy. he has seen the grief of all of those who have lost a loved one to gun violence. it is, for them, for all of us, he will never give up on this. it is my great honor to introduce the president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] pres. biden: thank you, madam vice president, thank you very much. we are joined by the attorney general, merrick garland, who i have asked to prioritize gun violence. it is good to see the second
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gentleman, who is here. it is good to see the first lady, dr. jill biden, who cares deeply about this issue as well. i see so many members of congress, so many who have never given up. so many of you determined to get this done. we have a long way to go. it seems we always have a long way to go. today, we are taking steps to confront the gun crisis, and what is actually a public health crisis. nothing i am about to recommend in any way impinges on the second amendment. a phony arguments suggest these are second amendment rights at stake what we are talking about. no amendment to the constitution is absolute. you cannot yell fire in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech.
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in the beginning, you could not own any weapon you wanted to. in the beginning, certain people were not allowed to have certain weapons. it is bizarre people are saying is contrary to the constitution. gun violence in this country is an epidemic. it is an international embarrassment. we saw it again, last night, as i was coming to the oval office. in south carolina, a physician, with his wife, two grandchildren, and a person working at his house were gunned down. so many people sitting here today know that well, unfortunately. in iowa, they know what it is like when the seconds change your life forever.
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i have had the pleasure of getting to meet, in awful circumstances, many of you who have lost your children, your husband, your wives. they know what it is like to bury a piece of their soul deep in the earth. we understand that. mark and jackie, i want to tell you, it is always good to see you, but not under these circumstances. what a lot of people have not been through, what they have been through, they do not understand. it takes courage to come to an event like this. they are determined to make change. mark and jackie, their son daniel was a first grader in sandy hook elementary school. he loved outdoor sports, getting muddy. i have seen my friend, his daughter was a freshman at
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marjorie stoneman douglas high school. she was an accomplished dancer. i see brandon wolf, his two best friends died. greg jackson was caught in crossfire in a gunfight. i see a close friend of jill's and mine, gabby giffords, was shot and a member of her staff was killed. they are here, their pain is immense. what many of you do not know, if you have gone through a trauma, no matter how much you work to make sure others don't go through it, every time you show up at an event like this, it brings up when you got that phone call, the immediacy of that moment. i mean it. thank you for having the courage
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to be here, the courage to continue this fight. senator blumenthal understands. a lot of the folks here understand it. it takes courage. to turn pain and purpose and demand we take the action that gives meaning to the word enough. enough, enough, enough. what they want you to know, it is not just listen. every day in this country, 316 people are shot every day. 106 of them die every day.
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our flag was still flying at half staff for the victims of the murder of eight asian american people in georgia, when 10 more lives were taken in a mass murder in colorado. you probably did not hear it, but between those two, less than one week apart, more than 850 additional shootings. 850 that took the lives of more than 250 people and left 500 injured. this is an epidemic, for god sake. it has to stop. i am here to talk about the steps we are going to take immediately and second, the actions that need to be taken going forward to curb the epidemic of gun violence. i asked the attorney general and
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his team to identify immediate, concrete actions i can take now without having to go through congress. i am announcing several steps my administration is taking to curb this epidemic of gun violence. i want to rein in the proliferation of ghost guns. these are homemade. built from a kit and include directions on how to finish the firearm. they have no serial numbers. when they show up at a crime scene, they cannot be traced. buyers are not required to pass background checks to buy the kit, to make the gun. anyone from a criminal to a terrorist can buy this kit and put together this weapon. i want to see these treated as firearms under the gun control
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act, which is going to require the seller and manufacturers make the key parts with serial numbers and run background checks on the buyers when they walk into by that package. the second action we are going to take, in 2000, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms released a report about the firearms tracking in america. it was an important tool when i was in the senate and beyond, to stop firearms being diverted into dangerous hands. today, with online sales and ghost guns, tracking methods have changed. we have to adjust. we have to ask the justice department to release a new annual report. this will help policymakers
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address firearms tracking as it is today, not as it was yesterday. we want to treat pistols, modified with stabilizing braces, with the seriousness they deserve. it makes the pistol a lot more accurate, as a mini rifle. it is more lethal, turning into a short barreled rifle. that is what the alleged shooter in boulder appeared to have done. the national firearms act requires a potential owner pay fees, submit their name and
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other identifying information to the justice department, just as if they were to purchase a silencer for a gun. during my campaign for president, i wanted to make it easier for states to adopt protection order laws. they are also called red flag laws. these laws allow police or family members to petition a court in their jurisdiction and say i want you to remove from the following people any firearm they may possess because they are a danger. they present a danger to themselves and others. the court makes a ruling. to put this in perspective, more than half of all suicides involved the use of a firearm. when a gun is not available, attempted suicide rates drop drastically. every single month, an average
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of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. the violence against women's act has been a struggle to keep moving. red flag laws can stop mass shooters before they can act out their violent plans. i am proud that the red flag law in my home state was named after our son, who proposed that legislation back in 2013. i want to see a national red flag law. legislation and incentivize states to enact their own red flag laws. i asked the justice department
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to publish a model legislation so states can craft their own laws right now. it is time to put these laws on the books and protect more people. the attorney general will have more to say in a moment. we recognize cities across the country are experiencing historic spikes in homicides. the violence is hitting black and brown communities the hardest. homicide is the leading cause of death in black boys and men ages 15 to 34. the leading cause of death. there are proven strategies that reduce gun violence in urban communities. there are programs that demonstrate reduced homicides in urban communities.
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many of these have been badly underfunded or not funded at all. gun violence in america, estimated to cost the nation $280 billion a year. how could that be? hospital bills, physical therapy, trauma counseling, legal fees, prison costs, and the loss of productivity, not to mention the psychological damage done to children who live in the cities, watching this happen, knowing someone this has happened to. it has a profound impact on our children, even if they are never
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involved in pulling the trigger or being the victim on the other. for a fraction of the cost of gun violence, we can save lives, create safe and healthy communities, and to build economies that work for all of us and save billions of american dollars in the meantime. much of it is taxpayer money. finally, the bureau of alcohol , tobacco, and firearms has not had a permanent director since 2015. today, i am proud to nominate david chipman to serve as the director of the aft. he knows the aft well. he served there for 25 years. vice president harris and i believe he is the right person at this moment for this agency. i said before that my job and
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the job of any president is to protect the american people. whether congress acts or not, i am going to use all of the resources at my disposal as president to keep people safe from gun violence. there is much more congress can do to help that effort and it can do it now. they have offered many thoughts and prayers but they have not introduced any laws to reduce gun violence. enough prayers, time for action. i think the senate should immediately pass bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchasers to bypass the background checks. the vast majority of people believe there should be background checks before you purchase a gun. as noted earlier, hundreds of
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thousands of people have been denied guns because of background checks. these bills require background checks for any person purchasing a gun at a gun show or an online sale. [applause] most people don't know, you walk into a sure -- store and buy a gun you have a background check, but at a show you don't need one. second thing, we are closing the charlston loophole. like many people here i spent time at that church in charleston. what happened is, someone was allowed to get the gun used to kill those innocent people at a church service. if the fbi did not complete the background check within three days. there is a process. if it was not done in three days
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according to the charleston loophole, you get to buy the gun. he bought the gun and killed a lot of innocent people who invited him to pray with them. and three, reauthorizing the violence against women act, which so-called -- [applause] --closed the boyfriend and it's talking loophole to keep guns out of the hands of people found by the court to be an abuser and a continuing threat. i held over 1000 hours of hearings in the violence against women act. one thing came true. if in fact a stayaway order, in order preventing the abuser from coming in a certain distance of the person he has abused or she
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has abused, now the idea that they can own a weapon when they have a court order saying they are an abuser? these are some of the best tools we have to prevent nonviolence and save lives. -- gun violence and save lives. universal background checks are supported by the vast majority of the american people and i might add the vast majority of responsible gun owners. let me be clear, this is not a partisan issue among the american people. this is the view by the american people as an american issue. i am willing to work with anyone to get these done. it is long past time that we act. i know this has been a hobby horse of mine, i got it done once. we should also ban assault
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weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country. [applause] for that 10 years we had it done, the number of mass shootings went down. even law enforcement officials have told me and others they sometimes feel outgunned by assault weapons with large capacity magazines. there is no reason someone needs a weapon of war with 100 rounds, 100 bullets that can be fired from that weapon. nobody needs that. nobody needs that. we got that done when i was a united states senator. it was not easy going against the gun lobby but it saved lives. we should also eliminate gun manufacturers from the immunity they received from congress. [applause]
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again, the people here who are so knowledgeable, what people do not realize -- the only industry in america, a billion-dollar industry that cannot be sued has exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers. imagine how different things would be if that had been available to tobacco companies who knew and lied about the danger cancer -- of cancer. imagine where we would be. this is the only thing exempt from being sued. i have a list, if i could get one of these it would be that one. they would be a come to the lord
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moment for these folks quickly but they are not. they are exempt. i know the conversation about guns in this country can be a difficult one. but even here, there is much more common ground than anyone would believe. much more common ground. everything being proposed today is totally consistent with the second amendment and there is a wide consensus behind the need to take action. i know that when overwhelming majorities of americans want to see something change that will affect their lives and it still does not, it can be demoralizing to our citizens. it can feel like our entire political process is broken. i know it is painful and restraining that we have not made the progress. but it took five years to get no matter how long it
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takes, we are going to get these past. we have a responsibility to our people. we can show that democracy works, come together to get big things done. i look around and see brave survivors sitting out here, public servants who devoted their lives to doing with this. advocates who feel strongly and are pushing every day to make rational change. courageous parents and family members. i know the progress even this most difficult of issues is possible. so folks, this is just the start. we have a lot of work to do. i know almost everyone of you sitting here, none of you have given up. we are not going to give up.
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the idea that we have so many people dying every day from gun violence in america is a blemish on our character as a nation. let me say to all of you, god bless you, but most importantly the memory of all that many of you have lost in senseless gun violence. now i would like to hand it over to the attorney general to speak and make some comments. i hope i get a chance to see some of you after this is over. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, mr. president and madam vice president. we stand here today not at a moment of tragedy but in the midst of an enduring tragedy. so far this year, guns have
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taken the lives of an estimated 11,000 of our neighbors, friends, and fellow americans. as the president explained, gun deaths in our country are occurring at a staggering pace. about 100 americans killed every day, hundreds more wounded. i am under no illusions about how hard it is to solve the problem of gun violence and i know the department of justice alone cannot solve the problem. it is a problem we must all work on together in a collective effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives. but there is work for the department to do and we intend to do it. today, the department of justice is announcing the several steps we will take to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and reduce the risk of gun violence.
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first, we will ensure that we understand and measure the problem of criminal gun trafficking in a data-driven way. over 20 years ago, atf undertook a gun trafficking study. it issued a report that provided information necessary to better understand and combat gun trafficking networks. no such study has been conducted since that time. accordingly, i have directed the agency to begin work on an updated study of criminal gun trafficking that will take into the account that modern guns are not civilly cast or forged but can be made of plastic, printed on a 3d planter -- printer, or sold in kits.
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we will work with the national -- network and tracing center to keep up with the times. we will analyze our criminal cases and investigations to determine what they can show us about modern gun trafficking patterns. we expect the lessons from this study will help agents and policymakers tackle modern criminal gun trafficking enterprises. second, we will close a regulatory loophole that has contributed to the proliferation of so-called ghost gun's. federal law requires that manufacturers mark firearms with serial numbers so they can be traced if they are used in crimes. it also requires licensed firearm dealers to run background checks to ensure those who are barred by law from purchasing guns cannot do so.
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ghost gun's subverts these. currently, individuals can acquire kits that contain all or almost all of the parts they need to assemble a gunner. they can put a working weapon together in as little as 30 minutes. the kits are happily called buy build shoot kits. yet because of regulations these may not be considered firearms and they are being made and sold without serial numbers and without background checks. within 30 days, atf will issue a rule to plug the gap and enable law enforcement to -- keep those who cannot lawfully possess them from having guns. will make it so that -- federal
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law requires taxation and registration of all short-barreled rifles. it does so because these weapons are powerful yet easily concealable. currently, some many lecturers make and some individuals purchase certain types of stabilizing braces that when attached to a pistol effectively converted to a rifle. these are "intended to be fired from the shoulder." within 30 days, atf will issue a proposed rule that will make clear that when an device targeted as a day lysing device effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle, it is
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required in the statute. fourth, we will punch -- purchase red flag legislation for states. red flag laws allow family members and law enforcement to petition for court orders to temporarily bar people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. 19 states and the district of columbia have already made this first step. within 60 days, the justice department will publish -- it will make it easier for states to craft these laws. fifth, we will power -- and our communities to combat and prevent gun violence. we all recognize that while law enforcement plays an important role, gun violence is not a
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problem law enforcement -- [applause] communities are an essential partner, an asset of resources and ideas. those closest to the problem are a critical part of solving the problem. to that end, the justice department will make available over -- funding through over a dozen grad programs that can be used to support evidence based intervention strategies for reducing gun violence. [applause] such strategies include but are not limited to street outreach, violence interrupters, and hospital-based violence intervention services. [applause]
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i have drafted all of our grantmaking components to make prevention a priority. finally, none of these measures or any of the other critical law enforcement work the department does with respect to illegal guns can be effectively carried out without strong leadership. that is why the president has nominated david shipman to be the next atf director. [applause] he has come up through the ranks, spending 25 years in the trenches fighting illegal gun trafficking and criminal enterprises. his experience as an atf agent will prove that i look forward to working with him. looking out at many of you, it is not only a reminder of the tragic toll that gun violence
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takes on our communities, but also of the resilience and determination that it will take to make our communities safer. the department shares your commitment and that of the president and the vice president to stopping the plague of gun violence and save those we love. thank you. [applause] >> i wasn't supposed to do that. i would like to see all of you. thank you, thank you, let us get to work. [applause]
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>> ladies and gentlemen please remain in your seats until the president and participants have departed. >> coming up today, a discussion on proposals to change the federal work structure with the american constitution zaidi for law and policy.
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