Former President Barack Obama says the most recent mass shooting in the Atlanta area shows the need for new "common sense gun safety laws."
In a twitter thread, Obama said the issue of gun violence hasn’t diminished even as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 epidemic.
Robert Long, 21, has been charged with fatally shooting eight people, six of whom were Asian women, in massage parlors during a rampage Tuesday night.
"Even as we've battled the pandemic, we've continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America," Obama wrote Wednesday.
"Although the shooter's motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end."
"Yesterday's shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society," he said.
President Joe Biden, who was Obama’s Vice President, last month called on Congress to pass gun law reforms.
On the day marking the killing of 17 people at Parkland, Fla., Biden released a statement decrying gun violence.
"In seconds, the lives of dozens of families, and the life of an American community, were changed forever," Biden said in the Feb. 14 statement, calling on Congress to strengthen gun laws, including requiring background checks on all gun sales and banning assault weapons.
"We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now," he said.
House Democrats could use their control of both chambers of Congress to try and push through a bill to introduce background checks for all gun purchases within weeks, Business Insider reported.
Obama repeatedly pushed for gun reform during his presidency but failed to overcome congressional opposition, largely led by GOP lawmakers.
In a speech in January 2016, Obama wept talking about the December 2012 mass shooting that left 20 children dead in Newtown, Conn. — and his frustration at the lack of gun reforms since that time.
"Each time this comes up we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying. I reject that thinking," he said.
With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, GOP state lawmakers worry about the possibility of new federal gun control laws — and are ramping up defenses against it.
Legislation in at least a dozen states seeks to nullify any new restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons. Some bills would make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws.
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