On 4th Anniversary of Parkland Shooting, Gun Control Groups Remember 17 Killed and Demand Biden to Do More to Stop Violence

WASHINGTON — Four years after 17 people were shot dead at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., families and gun control advocates are demanding President Joe Biden do more to combat gun violence.

One father of a victim killed in the shootout tweeted early Monday morning, the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, saying he climbed a 150-foot crane near the White House.

“Today the whole world will listen to Joaquin. He has a very important message,” Father Manuel Oliver said in a video posted to Twitter around 6:50 am, referring to his son Joaquin Oliver. “I asked for a meeting with Joe Biden a month ago, but I never got that meeting.”

Oliver unfurled a poster with a photo of his son and criticism of Biden for gun killings on his watch. The police were called to the scene, where at least two people were on the crane. They later said that three were taken into custody, but were not identified.

Meanwhile, dozens of supporters were scheduled to rally outside the White House and launch a website chronicling the 47,000 gun deaths and 42,000 gun injuries in the country since Biden’s inauguration. The tracker also lists the number of young people killed and injured, as well as the number of mass shootings in the same time period, and includes a feature that allows users to publicly call on Biden and other administration officials to act against gun violence.

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“As a candidate, Joe Biden promised to prioritize the prevention of gun violence. As President Joe Biden didn’t,” said Igor Volsky, founder and CEO of Guns Down America.

In his first year in office, Biden’s efforts to pass legislation to tighten gun laws didn’t leave the drawing board. He was also forced to withdraw his candidate for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The group is calling on Biden to create a national office to fight gun violence and to nominate a new nominee to head the ATF.

Biden said in a statement ahead of a planned protest that the movement to end gun violence is “extraordinary.”

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“We can never get back those we have lost. But we can come together to fulfill the first duty 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’s time to make that solemn commitment.”

Since the shooting in Parkland killed 14 students and three staff members, gun violence in schools has only increased. Between August 1 and December 31, there were at least 136 shootings on school property, according to a count last week by gun rights group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Biden has taken action to crack down on “ghost guns,” homemade firearms that lack the serial numbers used to track them and are often bought without background checks. He worked to tighten regulations on handgun stabilization braces like those used in Boulder, Colorado in a shooting that killed 10 people. He also urged cities to use their COVID-19 aid dollars to help deal with gun violence. But these efforts are far from major changes.

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There are limits to what the president can do when Congress doesn’t want to pass a gun law. The strongest attempt in years failed, even after 20 children and six adults were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Parkland happened six years later.

Biden, a Democrat, said he asked members of Congress for funding to help cut violent crime and said they should pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and removing immunity for manufacturers weapons.

The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center studied attacks on schools across the country between 2006 and 2018 and reported that most of the attackers were bullied and that there were warning signs. Most importantly, according to the researchers, about 94% spoke about their attacks and what they intended to do in one way or another, whether verbally or electronically, and 75% were discovered because they spoke about their plots. About 36% were prevented within two days of the alleged attacks.

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