Parkland victim’s father scales crane near White House
Gun control advocates and families of the Parkland school shooting victims have marked the fourth anniversary of the massacre by calling on President Joe Biden to do more to address gun violence.
Protesters demonstrated near the White House, and the father of one teenager killed at the school scaled a 150-foot crane across the street on the Valentine’s Day anniversary of the shooting.
“The whole world will listen to Joaquin today. He has a very important message,” the father, Manuel Oliver, said in a tweeted video, referring to his son.
“I asked for a meeting with Joe Biden a month ago, never got that meeting.”
Mr Oliver unfurled a sign that showed a photo of his son and criticised Mr Biden for gun deaths since he took office. The father and two other protesters were taken into custody, accused of breaking into a construction site and scaling the equipment.
His action was part of a series of efforts to draw attention to gun violence and to a new website chronicling 47,000 gun deaths, including suicides, since Mr Biden was inaugurated. The tracker also lists the number of young people killed and injured as well as mass shootings and encourages users to call on the president and other administration officials to act.
“As a candidate, Joe Biden promised to prioritise gun violence prevention. As president, Joe Biden has not,” said Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of the group Guns Down America.
Blocked by members of Congress, especially Republicans, Mr Biden’s efforts to pass legislation to tighten gun laws have not left the drawing board. He also was forced to pull his nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The group is calling on Mr Biden to start a national office to address gun violence and to make a new nomination to head the ATF.
Mr Biden said in a statement before the protest that the movement to end gun violence is “extraordinary”.
“We can never bring back those we’ve lost. But we can come together to fulfil the first responsibility of our government and our democracy: to keep each other safe,” he said. “For Parkland, for all those we’ve lost, and for all those left behind, it is time to uphold that solemn obligation.”
We are demanding that (Joe Biden) takes action to save lives before the next Parkland happens
A former student opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, killing 14 students and three staff members. The massacre inflamed the nation’s debate over guns, turned some Parkland students into political activists and gave rise to some of the biggest youth demonstrations since the Vietnam era.
Former Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg, now a vocal gun control advocate, said they were protesting in front of the White House on Monday and were driving a truck around Washington with a sign that blares the number of gun deaths and injuries since Mr Biden has been president.
“We are demanding that he takes action to save lives before the next Parkland happens,” Mr Hogg said.
Since the Parkland shooting, gun violence at schools has only risen. There were at least 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds between August 1 and December 31, according to a tally last week by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Mr Biden has acted to crack down on ‘ghost guns’, homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and that are often purchased without a background check.
He has also encouraged cities to use their Covid-19 relief dollars to help manage gun violence.
However, there are limits to legislation when there is strong opposition among many in Congress to significant gun measures. The strongest effort in recent years failed, even after 20 children and six adults were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
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