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Biden: Gun violence in U.S. an "international embarrassment"

President Biden called gun violence in the U.S. an "epidemic" and "international embarrassment" in a press conference Thursday announcing new executive actions on gun access.

Why it matters: A recent spate of mass shootings, including two high-profile incidents that killed a total of 18 people, has fueled calls for greater action.

What he's saying: "No amendment to the Constitution is absolute," Biden said. It's "an epidemic, for god's sake, ... and a blemish on our nation."

  • The violence is "hitting Black and brown communities the hardest."
  • Gun violence is estimated to cost the nation $280 billion a year, Biden noted, citing research by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.

After formally nominating David Chipman to serve as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Biden urged the Senate to pass bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchasers to bypass background checks, and curb gun access for people whom courts have found to be abusers.

  • "We should also ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country," Biden said.
  • "Red flag laws can stop mass shooters before they can act out their violent plan." He added that he wants to see a national red flag law and incentivize states to implement their own.

Attorney General Merrick Garland then announced executive actions that include minimizing access to untraceable firearms that can be assembled from kits, and publishing "red flag" legislation for states to model on the local level.

  • The Biden administration will also make available over $1 billion in funding for evidence-based community intervention and prevention.

The bottom line: "Enough prayers," the president said. "Time for some action."

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