Joe Biden Says 'We Should Have Societal Guilt' At 10-Year Sandy Hook Anniversary

The president said he was “optimistic” that Congress might pass stronger gun control legislation as he declared a day of remembrance.

President Joe Biden demanded stronger nationwide gun control laws Wednesday as he marked the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting that violently ended the lives of 20 young children and six educators.

“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem,” Biden said in a statement. “We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again.”

The president declared a day of remembrance to mark the Newtown, Connecticut, mass shooting.

With a nod to legislation passed over the summer that cracked down on guns with no serial numbers and bulked up resources meant to prevent gun violence, Biden said he was “determined” to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear,” Biden said. “We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers.”

There is no concrete definition of “assault weapons,” but the term generally refers to a category of firearm that includes many semiautomatic rifles designed to hit human targets. Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that was instated as part of a massive 1994 crime bill but allowed to lapse after a decade. Many of the mass shootings over the past several years ― including the one at Sandy Hook ― were carried out using these kinds of weapons.

Biden said he was “optimistic” that a divided Congress could pass stronger gun control laws, “because I have seen the courage and resolve of the Sandy Hook families.”

Family members of the slain children and staffers have spent years advocating for gun control, in some cases while they endured attacks from conspiracy theorists who posited the shooting was faked.

The children who were killed in the attack would now be 16 or 17, thinking about their plans after high school.

Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organized by several family members of the victims, held an event last week to mark the milestone anniversary with speakers including former President Barack Obama, who was in office at the time.

“I consider Dec. 14, 2012, the single darkest day of my presidency,” Obama said from the podium in New York City. “Like so many other people, I felt not just sorrow, but I felt angry, fury in a world that could allow such a thing.”

A vigil last week to honor the victims included comments from a survivor, 17-year-old Jackie Haggerty, who huddled in her classroom across the hall during the shooting.

“We are asked to be brave while hiding under our desks in our classrooms, while too many elected officials lack the courage to pass common-sense laws to save our lives,” she said.

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