WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. “should have societal guilt” for the slow pace of action on restricting access to firearms as he marked the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty students and six educators died in the massacre at the Newtown, Connecticut, school which shocked the nation. Biden was using the anniversary to renew his call for a ban on assault-style weapons like the one used in the Sandy Hook shooting, as well as high-capacity magazines.
“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem,” Biden said in a statement. “We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again. We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul ten years ago to turn their pain into purpose.”
Biden was vice president at the time of the shooting and was tapped by then-President Barack Obama to lead an ill-fated effort to tighten gun laws. He said he and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, were praying for the victims and their families.
It wasn't until after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that Congress this summer passed the most substantial gun reforms in decades, targeting so-called “ghost guns” that don't have serial numbers, yet Biden's calls for more aggressive action, including banning assault-style weapons, have faced stiff opposition in Congress.
“Enough is enough,” Biden said. “Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers. It is within our power to do this - for the sake of not only the lives of the innocents lost, but for the survivors who still hope.”
There were no official remembrances Wednesday in Newtown, in keeping with the town's tradition of quiet reflection. Several churches planed memorial services.
The White House was illuminated green on Wednesday evening in honor of the Connecticut school shooting victims.
“All of the families honor their loved ones in unique ways, including through different symbols and colors — and green is the color many of the families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting used in ribbons and memorials in the early days after the shooting,” the White House said in a statement.
On Wednesday, there was a groundbreaking in town for the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, named after a 6-year-old animal lover who died in the shooting.
“Catherine’s legacy lives on at the sanctuary, a place where all creatures know safety and kindness,” Catherine's mother, Jenny Hubbard, said in a statement.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said in a video message posted on social media, “Newtown, you’re always in our hearts.”
The state passed new gun controls after the massacre, including bans on certain semiautomatic rifles and large-capacity magazines.
“What would be even more tragic — if we didn’t learn and do everything we can to make sure a tragedy like this is less likely to ever happen again,” Lamont said.