“We’re going to do everything that we can from here, but really the answer is Congress has to act,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, one day after a mass shooter killed 18 people and injured 13 others in Lewiston, Maine. (Drew Angerer/ Getty Images)
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called on Congress on Thursday to strengthen gun safety laws in the wake of the mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine.
Jean-Pierre opened Thursday’s press briefing with a statement on the shootings, saying President Joe Biden stepped out of a state dinner Wednesday night to receive an initial briefing on the event. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were “praying for the victims and their families” and “for those still fighting for their lives,” Jean-Pierre said.
Such violence devastated families and communities and left survivors “both physically and mentally scarred,” she said. She ticked through a list of policies Congress could enact to reduce future violence: banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring universal background checks and requiring safe storage of guns.
Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill last year, which was narrower than an earlier Democratic proposal. He also established a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, headed by Vice President Kamala Harris, last month.
But such steps were insufficient, Jean-Pierre said.
“While we have made progress since the president signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, much more — much more — must be done,” she said. “The president has been clear that executive action alone is just not enough.”
The White House office would evaluate what further executive actions could be taken, Jean-Pierre said. But the bulk of the responsibility fell to Congress, she said.
“We’re going to do everything that we can from here, but really the answer is Congress has to act,” she said. “They have to take action.”
Jean-Pierre declined to answer a question about Biden potentially visiting Lewiston in the aftermath of the shootings. The first priority should be to arrest a suspect, she said.
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