President Joe Biden has denounced Republicans’ allegiance to the gun lobby in response to a spate of mass shootings over the weekend, noting that many GOP presidential contenders spent the weekend pushing for gun deregulation at a convention for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
From the start of the year through April 16, there have been 163 mass shootings in the U.S., with an average of more than 1.5 mass shootings a day. From Friday to Sunday, there were nine mass shootings alone, according to statistics compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.
The organization defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed.
The number of mass shootings this year has far outpaced the number of mass shootings at this point last year. From January 1, 2022, to April 16, 2022, there were 139 mass shootings, meaning there has been a 17 percent increase in the number of mass shootings over a similar time frame year-to-year.
Biden cited two specific mass shootings that drew national attention over the weekend — one at a birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama, in which four people were killed and 20 were injured; and another at a park in Louisville, Kentucky, in which two people were killed and four were injured.
“What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear? When parents have to worry every time their kids walk out the door to school, to the movie theater, or to the park?” Biden said in a statement on Sunday.
Biden added that the situation was “outrageous and unacceptable,” noting that most Americans agree that the U.S. should enact “commonsense gun safety reforms.”
The president then condemned Republicans, many of whom attended an NRA convention over the weekend. “This past week Americans saw national Republican elected leaders stand alongside the NRA in a race to the bottom on dangerous laws that further erode gun safety.” he said. “Our communities need and deserve better.”
Biden called on Congress to pass requirements for safe storage of firearms, background checks for every gun sale, eliminating immunity of responsibility for gun manufacturers, and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“This should happen without delay,” the president said.
The NRA convention that was held in Indianapolis, Indiana over the weekend — less than a two-hour drive from Louisville — featured many GOP speakers, including announced and presumed 2024 presidential candidates.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), who is likely to announce a presidential run, addressed the crowd through video. Presidential candidate Nikki Haley, a former Trump administration ambassador to the United Nations, also appeared by video, as did Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who has announced an exploratory committee to run for president. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is also expected to run in 2024, appeared onstage, and specifically attacked gun reform proponents in his speech.
“Stop trampling on the God-given rights of the American people every time tragedy happens,” Pence said.
Trump, who has also announced a 2024 presidential run, similarly decried gun control efforts at the convention.
“This is not a gun problem. This is a mental health problem, this is a social problem, this is a cultural problem, this is a spiritual problem,” Trump claimed.
Right-wing lawmakers often falsely portray mental illness as the root cause of gun violence, even as GOP members of Congress repeatedly oppose measures to increase mental health funding.
Scientific analyses have shown that mental illness actually plays a very small role in mass shootings. One study, for instance, found that mental illness only contributed to 4 percent of all violence in the U.S; its contribution to gun violence is even lower.
Meanwhile, a CBS News/YouGov poll published on Sunday found that 62 percent of Americans favor a nationwide ban on AR-15 semi-automatic weapons.
The vast majority of Americans believe that congressional action could help lower gun violence overall. Seventy-six percent of the poll’s respondents said that mass shootings can be prevented “if we really tried,” while just 24 percent said that Americans have to accept mass shootings as a cost of living in a free society.