President Joe Biden on Tuesday accused MAGA Republicans of wanting to defund the police and ‘abolish the FBI’ as he made a case for stricter gun laws.
Speaking in Monterey Park, California, the president tried to console a grieving community still reeling from a mass shooting during Lunar New Year festivities in January. The gunman shot 20 people and killed 11 using a semi-automatic weapon before killing himself.
Biden described January 21 as ‘a day of festivity and light turned into fear and darkness.’
‘I’m here to mourn with you, pray with you, to let you know you are loved and not alone,’ Biden told the crowd.
Biden demanded Congress take action against gun violence. ‘Ban assault weapons. Ban them again. Do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big,’ he said
His audience of families affected by the shooting and community leaders listened silently as he told them he understood how their ‘sense of safety’ was ‘shattered.’
The silence turned to applause when Biden talked about Bradon Tsay, who helped stop the shooter, and when he praised the multiple Oscar wins by the film, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Tsay greeted the president at the Los Angeles International Airport and was also in the auditorium for his remarks.
In his speech, the president made an emotional appeal for stricter gun laws as he signed an executive order to increase the number of background checks.
‘Last week, I laid out in my budget that we invest more in safer communities and invest in mental health services for those affected by gun violence. Congressional Republicans should pass my budget instead of calling for cuts in these services or abolishing the police or defunding the FBI,’ he said.
Biden repeated his call for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines weapons, which is unlikely to happen with Republicans in control of the House.
‘Ban assault weapons. Ban them again. Do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big,’ the president said, his voice growing louder as he spoke.
By taking action through executive order, Biden can bypass Capitol Hill.
His order will increase the number of background checks to buy guns, promote better and more secure firearms storage and ensure U.S. law enforcement agencies are getting the most out of a bipartisan gun control law enacted last summer.
‘He is directing the Attorney General to move as close as we can to universal background checks without additional legislation,’ a senior administration official said of the order.
‘There are a few policy ideas more popular among the American people than universal background checks, but Congress fails to act.’
A woman in the crowd at Biden’s speech in Monterey Park wipes away a tear
President Joe Biden hugs an audience member after delivering remarks at the Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley on March 14, 2023 in Monterey Park, California
Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the shooter (right) greeted President Biden at the airport upon the president’s arrival in Los Angeles
Biden’s rhetoric on gun laws has grown strong during his presidency as gun violence has continues to surge in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
His budget proposal includes funds for hiring 100,000 additional police on the streets, plus money for crime prevention strategies and community violence intervention.
Republicans initially used the cry ‘defund police’ against Democrats. But the Democrats are attempting to turn the tables, using GOP opposition to $1.9 billion to boost Capitol security and fund the police officers in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riots to argue Republicans want to defund the police.
Additionally, after FBI agents raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home with a search warrant, some Republicans called for disbanding the agency.
And the president could use guns as an issue in his re-election campaign. He has not formally announced a second presidential bid but said he intends to run again.
The January shooting in Monterey Park resulted in 20 people shot and 11 killed
The 11 victims of the horrific Monterey Park mass shooting that occurred amid Lunar New Year celebrations are identified as: My Nhan, 65, Lilian Li, 63, Xiujuan Yu, 57, Muoi Ung, 67, Hong Jian, 62, Diana Tom, 70, Yu Kao, 72, Chia Yau, 76, Valentino Alvero, 68, Wen Yu, 64, and Ming Ma, 72,
It is not the first time Biden has highlighted the Monterey Park shooting to make a case for stronger gun laws.
First Lady Jill Biden invited Tsay to join her at Biden’s State of the Union address in February.
The 72-year-old shooter, Huu Can Tran, attacked the Star Ballroom Dance Studio during the Lunar New Year festivities and then headed to the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in nearby Alhambra.
Tsay, a 26-year-old computer programmer whose family owns the dance studio, confronted the gunman in the lobby, wrestled the gun away, and chased him out.
‘He saved lives. It´s time we do the same as well,’ Biden said in his speech to Congress. ‘Ban assault weapons once and for all.’
Biden is also mandating better reporting of ballistics data from federal law enforcement for a clearinghouse that allows federal, state and local law enforcement to match shell casings to guns. But local and state law enforcement agencies are not required to report ballistics data, and many do not, making the clearinghouse less effective.
The president has asked the Federal Trade Commission to issue a public report analyzing how gun manufacturers market to minors and use military images for marketing to the general public.
Congress passed legislation last year, known as the Safer Communities Act, which gun control advocates view as a good start but one that doesn’t go far enough.
After the law was signed in June 2022, there were 11 other mass shootings.