U.S. Gun Control Updates: Biden 'Constantly Briefed' on Congressional Gun Talks

Live Updates
U.S. gun control debate
Protesters gather near the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to ask him to work on gun-safety legislation on June 3, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Biden 'Constantly Briefed' on Congressional Gun Talks

President Joe Biden said he has been "constantly" briefed on Congressional discussions about gun violence and gun legislation.

During his remarks on the May 2022 jobs report, Biden was asked if he will meet with lawmakers on the Hill next week to discuss guns.

"My staff is — my staff is dealing — and have been dealing constantly with every member of the House and Senate who is wanting to talk about guns," Biden said.

He said the situation has been a "constant interchange" and he has been "constantly briefed."

"I'll do what I can to try to see if we have some real progress," Biden added.

Biden Briefed on Guns
US President Joe Biden said he is "constantly briefed" on the ongoing gun talks in Congress. Above, Biden speaks about the May 2022 Jobs Report from the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center on June 3, 2022, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. - US employers added 390,000 jobs last month, the government reported on June 3, 2022, a sign of a slowdown in hiring but still a better-than-expected result. The jobless rate held steady at 3.6 percent for the third consecutive month, just a tenth of a point above the pre-pandemic level of February 2020, the Labor Department said. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

DeSantis Denies Tampa Bay Ray Funding Amid Gun Control Tweets

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed state funding for a new Tampa Bay Rays training facility after the baseball team spoke out against gun violence.

The Republican governor blocked $35 million for a training and youth tournament complex in Pasco County, according to Outkick. Local officials hoped the complex could serve as the new player development facility for the Rays.

"I don't support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums, period," DeSantis said at a press conference Friday. "At the end of the day, that was just the decision that was going to be made."

However, recent activism from the Major League Baseball team may have influenced DeSantis' decision.

After the Uvalde, Texas shooting, the Rays announced a $50,000 donation to Everytown for Gun Safety to prevent gun violence.

"This cannot become normal," the Ray said in a statement. "We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes."

On May 26, the Rays partnered with the New York Yankees, their opponent that evening, to use their social media to amplify statistics about gun violence in America instead of their usual game coverage.

This included tweets about gun violence in relations to domestic violence, suicide, veterans, Black and Latino people and children.

"When an assault weapon is used in a mass shooting, it results in six times as many people shot than when other guns are used," the Rays tweeted during the game.

A source close to DeSantis told CNN that the governor had not made up his mind about the facility until the Rays took this stand against gun violence. This move by the Rays made his decision politically easier, the source said.

"Companies are free to engage or not engage with any discourse they want but clearly it's inappropriate to be doing tax dollars for [a] professional sports stadium," DeSantis said Friday said. "It's also inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation. So, I think, either way it's not appropriate."

He added that the use of tax dollars for professional stadium would not be a "prudent use" of funds.

New York Passes 'Nation-Leading' Gun Legislation

The New York State Legislature this week passed what Governor Kathy Hochul described as "nation-leading" gun safety legislation amid the country's debate about gun violence.

Once signed into law, the legislation will bolster red-flag laws and close other loopholes for gun purchases. Also included in the legislation is a bill that increases the minimum age for legally purchasing or possessing a semi-automatic rifle to 21, up from 18.

The state legislature voted to approve the new age requirement less than one month after an 18-year-old suspect was identified in the mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, New York. An 18-year-old was also identified as the suspect in last week's mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

A proposal to increase the minimum age for purchasing assault-style weapons to 21 was among the recommendations President Joe Biden mentioned during his speech on gun violence Thursday night. While members of Congress are still deliberating proposed gun legislation, legislators in New York took steps on Thursday to implement the state's own gun safety legislation.

Hochul celebrated her state's progress in a Thursday evening tweet.

"Our nation-leading gun legislation package just passed both houses," Hochul wrote. She thanked the leaders of the state legislature and added, "I look forward to signing these bills into law."

On Friday, Hochul again mentioned the steps her state has taken to address gun violence during an event in Harlem.

"We're saying here, in New York, we will lead—but the rest of the states, shame on you if you don't," Hochul said. "This is a moment of reckoning. History, and ultimately God, will judge all of us on how we responded to this crisis to take the guns out of the streets."

Uvalde School Police Chief Arrived to Shooting Without a Radio

The chief of the Uvalde schools Police Chief did not have his radio when he arrived to the scene of the shooting, a state senator said.

Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez told the Associated Press that a Texas Department of Public Safety official told him Chief Pete Arredondo was without a radio as the incident unfolded. This may have hindered his ability to communicate with police dispatchers and other officers responding to the scene.

Arredondo was one of the first responders after the gunman entered the school on May 24. He oversaw the response to the shooting.

Gutierrez previously said that Arredondo was not informed of the 911 calls coming from students trapped inside classrooms with the gunman. He called this a "system failure."

According to the New York Times, Arredondo used a cellphone to call a police landline to say the gunman had an AR-15 and was "contained," but first responders needed more firepower and to surround the building.

Officers did not confront the gunman initially, per school shooter training. Instead, they wanted outside the school for over an hour as the gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers.

A New York Times investigation, that included interviews with law enforcement officials, survivors, other witnesses and police experts, found that breakdowns in communication and tactical decisions "that were out of step with years of police preparations for school shootings may have contributed to additional deaths in the school" and "certainly delayed critical medical attention to the wounded."

A tactical team led by Border Patrol officers ultimately entered the school and shot the gunman dead.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, the local district attorney's office and the Justice Department are each conducting investigations into the shooting.

Arredondo has reportedly not been cooperating with the investigation and the Texas DPS has yet to release a report.

Uvalde School Memorial
Flowers and photographs are seen at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 3, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Graham Says It's 'Time to Mobilize' Veterans for School Security

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested bringing former members of the U.S. military into schools to assist with security in a series of tweets he posted Friday morning.

These "well-trained" veterans "could bring a lot to the table in terms of school security," Graham said, adding that instructors with the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) who have official firearms training "should be allowed to possess weapons to enhance school security."

Graham's proposed strategy for boosting security in schools is linked to his party's argument that school security is an imperative component in the wider gun control debate.

The Republican senator said he intends to make a "certification process" wherein veterans can complete school security training "and become available to school districts throughout the country."

"It is time to mobilize our retired and former service members who are willing to help secure our schools," Graham's continued. "Our schools are soft targets. They contain our most valuable possession – our children, the future of our country – and must be protected."

Graham's tweet ended by saying that schools "should be treated like courthouses, banks, capital buildings, etc when it comes to security."

Shooting Survivors to Testify for House Oversight Committee

The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing next week to "examine the gun violence epidemic" in the United States.

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democratic Representative from New York said she is turning her "anger into action" following the deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.

"Our hearing will examine the terrible impact of gun violence and the urgent need to rein in the weapons of war used to perpetrate these crimes," she said in a statement.

Maloney said she hopes her colleagues will "listen with an open heart" as gun violence survivors and families of victims testify on Wednesday, June 8.

"This hearing is ultimately about saving lives, and I hope it will galvanize my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to do just that," she said.

The Committee will hear testimony from survivors and the families of victims from both the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings.

This includes:

  • Zeneta Everhart: Mother of Buffalo survivor Zaire Goodman
  • Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio: Parents of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who was shot and killed in Uvalde
  • Miah Cerrillo: Fourth grade Robb Elementary survivor who covered herself with a classmate's blood and played dead when the shooter entered her classroom

They will also hear testimony from experts, including the Buffalo Police Commissioners, the President of the National Education Association and the Senior Vice President of Law & Police for Everytown, a gun safety action fund.

Father of Uvalde Victim Demands Action From Gunmaker

The father of a Uvalde school shooting victim is calling on a gun manufacturer to share information about marketing toward children and teens.

Alfred Garza III lost his daughter, 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde last week.

He is now calling on Daniel Defense, the maker of the AR-15 used by the Uvalde gunman, to release marketing information and any communications with the shooter. Garza pledged to make public any information obtained from the company.

"My purpose for being now is to honor Amerie Jo's memory," Garza said in a statement to Newsweek. "She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child. I have to fight her fight."

In the letter, Garza is asking Daniel Defense for "relevant to your marketing of AR-15 style rifles, including but not limited to the DDM4 v7 model; to your marketing of AR-15 style rifles to teens and children; to your incitement and encouragement of the assaultive use of these weapons; to your on-line purchase system; and to your communications, on any platform, with the Uvalde shooter; and to your awareness of the prior use of AR-15 style rifles in mass shootings."

Garza is working with Josh Koskoff, a Connecticut lawyer who secured a major victory for the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims against gunmaker Remington, and Texas attorney Mikal Watts.

"Daniel Defense has said that they are praying for the Uvalde families. They should back up those prayers with meaningful action," Koskoff said in a statement to Newsweek. "If they really are sincere in their desire to support these families, they will provide the information that Mr. Garza has requested without delay or excuse. Either way, we will do a complete and thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned."

Watts said Koskoff is the "only attorney in the country that has successfully navigated a case like this."

"As we've seen in Texas, Buffalo, Sandy Hook and across the country, holding gun companies accountable when their weapons of war are used to tear apart families and communities is a daunting legal task," Watts said in a statement to Newsweek.

Man With Fake Badge, High Capacity Magazines Arrested Near U.S. Capitol

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) said it arrested a man who had body armor, a fake badge and high-capacity magazines outside of the U.S. Capitol Friday.

The man has been identified as 53-year-old Jerome Felipe, a retired New York police officer from Flint, Michigan, according to a Friday news release from the USCP.

Police said they became aware of Felipe's presence at about 5 a.m. when he parked his vehicle along the western side of the Capitol Building. Felipe showed USCP officers "a fake badge that had 'Department of the INTERPOL' printed on it" and told them he was a criminal investigator with that department.

"Felipe gave officers permission to search his vehicle," the USCP release said. "The officers discovered a BB gun, two ballistic vests, several high capacity magazines, and other ammunition in the car. No real guns were found."

Officers are investigating why Felipe was at the Capitol, the USCP said. The man will now face charges "for unlawful possession of high capacity magazines and unregistered ammo," police said.

Police said they made the arrest on Friday morning, as Americans across the country began recognizing National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Eagles Owner Says 'Enough is Enough'

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie called for "appropriate gun safety legislation" Friday, in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Lurie's three-paragraph statement began by recognizing the pain that many Americans in Philadelphia and across the nation face after losing a loved one to gun violence.

Lurie then called upon lawmakers to take action.

"These senseless acts of violence will not cease to occur without a concerted effort from those who govern our nation and make public policy," Lurie said. "As a country, we need to call upon our lawmakers to enact tangible change and address this public crisis through appropriate gun safety legislation."

The fact that gun violence incidents continue in America "is completely unacceptable and disheartening," Lurie added.

"We are faced with an epidemic plaguing our communities and my hope is that we can influence our elected officials to create and pass legislation so the people in this country can feel safe when they leave their homes," he said.

"Enough is enough! Assault weapons loaded with high-capacity magazines are a clear threat to public safety and should be banned," Lurie continued. He also encouraged the reimplementation of a federal ban on assault weapons and the embrace of universal background checks, the latter of which he said "could have a significant impact on mass shootings by ensuring that these dangerous firearms are not getting into the wrong hands."

The Philadelphia Eagles shared Lurie's statement in full in a Friday morning tweet. The team also shared a series of tweets in support of the #WearOrange movement, including a photo of the team dressed in orange.

"We're joining the #WearOrange movement to commemorate survivors and those who have fallen victim to gun violence," the team tweeted. "This campaign honors the more than 110 lives cut short and the hundreds more wounded by gun violence every day."

Kim Kardashian Asks for Prison Release for Uvalde Victim's Father

Kim Kardashian is calling for the father of a Uvalde, Texas shooting victim to be allowed to attend his daughter's funeral.

The father of 10-year-old Eliahana 'Ellie' Cruz Torres is currently incarcerated for a nonviolent drug offence, Kardashian said.

Eli Torres is currently an inmate at the McCreary United States Penitentiary in Kentucky, WYMT-TV reports. He was convicted of drug trafficking and conspiracy in Del Rio, Texas. Torres is scheduled to be released in February 2033.

"Her family are desperately hoping that her father... be granted temporary release so that he can attend her funeral," Kardashian said in a tweet.

The family's request has been denied. Kardashian said she asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons to grant Eli Torres temporary release "so that he can say his last goodbye to his baby girl."

"Every parent deserves that right," she said.

Kentucky Representative Attica Scott sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear demanding action on this matter.

NRA Says Biden's Ideas Not a 'Real Solution'

Following President Joe Biden's speech about gun violence Thursday night, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) issued a response that took issue with many of the President's proposals.

In his speech, Biden called for either banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines or raising the minimum age for purchasing them to 21, up from 18. He also suggested strengthening background checks, implementing safe storage and red-flag laws, revoking immunity for manufacturers and finding new ways to navigate the country's mental health crisis.

Biden described the actions he proposed as "rational, commonsense measures."

After Biden's speech, the NRA released a response several paragraphs long that began by identifying members of the association as "law-abiding men and women" who "grieve with all of America regardless of party or political affiliation" after "a crime is committed or tragedy occurs."

"The National Rifle Association of America supports substantive policies and real solutions that will make a difference," the statement said. "Policies that will not only address these tragic and evil acts that dominate the headlines, but also the catastrophic loss of life that happens too often as a direct consequence of the current crime epidemic that plagues our nation."

The statement went on to identify some of those "substantive policies," which included securing schools, funding law enforcement agencies, enforcing laws and punishing the people who break them.

"What we don't support are senseless policies like no-cash bail that create a revolving door justice system that only endangers good citizens," the NRA said. "And, we will fight any proposal that will disarm law-abiding Americans."

The NRA's statement then focused on the country's mental health crisis, calling for strategies to help those in need.

The association concluded its statement by saying Biden's proposals were not a "real solution" and not "what America needs."

"But, instead of acting on functional measures and real solutions that when implemented will reduce crime and will help those with dangerous behavioral health issues, all that the President repeatedly proposes will only infringe on the rights of those law-abiding who have never, and will never, commit a crime," the NRA said. "This isn't a real solution, it isn't true leadership, and it isn't what America needs. And, that's a shame."

NRA responds to Biden speech on guns
A thin blue line flag, signaling support for law enforcement, is displayed above the sign for the National Rifle Association (NRA) outside of its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, on May 31, 2022. STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Maryland Student Stage Walkout to Protest Gun Violence

Maryland students staged a walkout to protest gun violence in the United States Friday.

Students at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland walked out of class Friday morning and gathered in the parking lot outside.

"There is no reason for any of us to be able to buy a gun before we can legally drink," a student said during the walkout. "That is wild. That is, like, mind-blowing."

"Protect our lives!" the crowd of students chanted. "Keep our schools safe!"

"We live near Washington, they should be able to hear us from there," the student on the microphone said, encouraging the crowd to chant louder.

States Where People Under 21 Can't Buy Guns

Only six U.S. states require individuals to be 21 or older in order to purchase firearms, according to data compiled by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The states that have these minimum age requirements in place are California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and Washington. California state law has exceptions for people under 21 who are in law enforcement, the armed forces, or who have legally obtained a hunting license. Vermont also has exceptions for people under 21 who have completed hunting safety training.

The legal purchase ages differ in all other U.S. states. Many require individuals to be at least 18 to purchase either a handgun or a long gun.

The minimum age at which one should be legally allowed to purchase a firearm has been under debate as politicians across the U.S. confront an ongoing conversation about gun safety. Some have pointed to the suspected gunmen in the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Both suspects were 18 at the time of the shootings.

Uvalde Teacher Files Petition Against Gun Manufacturer

A Robb Elementary School teacher is taking legal action against a gun manufacturer after last week's shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Emilia Marin filed a petition to take the deposition of Daniel Defense, maker of the AR-15 style rifle used by the gunman in the Robb Elementary School shooting, according to ABC reporter Aaron Katersky.

Her attorney Don Flanary told CNN that he is assisting Marin with a possible civil claim against Daniel Defense.

This petition, a precursor to a lawsuit, does not accuse the gun manufacturer of any wrongdoing. It seeks to investigate whether the petitioner has any basis to file a claim against Daniel Defense.

Marin was the teacher wrongly accused by police of leaving open the door used by the gunman to enter the school.

She was waiting for a coworker to pull up to the side door with food for the end-of-year party they were setting up for, Flanary told CNN. She went to the door, saw the gunman crash his car, propped the door open.

Marin reportedly went back inside to call 9-1-1 and report the crash. When she returned, her coworker was running and someone across the street was yelling "he's got a gun." When Marin saw the gunman coming towards her, she kicked the door closed, according Flanary.

Investigators initially reported that the school door was left open, allowing the gunman to enter and kill 19 students and two teachers.

"It's traumatic for her when it's insinuated that she's involved, the door open," Flanary told ABC News.

The Texas Department of Public Safety later clarified that the shooter entered through a closed door that was unlocked.

Over 230 Mass Shooting Incidents This Year

There have been over 230 mass shootings in the United States so far this year.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 233 mass shootings in 2022.

Over 8,000 people have died and over 15,00 have been injured due to gun violence, as of June 2, the Gun Violence Archive reported.

On Thursday alone, there were 75 shootings, though not all deadly. A total of 36 people were killed in these incidents, according to the archive.

Several mass shootings have unfolded at a rapid rate recently. The shooting at a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital Wednesday was the 20th mass shooting since the Uvalde, Texas shooting, just a week earlier.

Data from the Gun Violence Archive shows shootings have continued every day since Uvalde. The rate of mass shootings has reached more than 2.4 a day.

Even as President Joe Biden gave a speech calling for gun violence Thursday night, more shootings occurred.

A convicted murderer on the run in Texas killed a family of five before being shot by police, after a confrontation in which the fugitive fired at officers using an AR-15 that police believe he had stolen from his victims.

In Iowa, two women were shot dead by a gunman who opened fire at a Baptist Church in Ames, before dying from self-inflicted injuries, according to police reports.

In Garland, Texas, police shot dead a suspect who had fatally shot a bail bond agent who was serving a warrant at a motel. The suspect has not yet been identified by police.

In Wisconsin, two people were shot during a funeral at Racine cemetery.

"How much more carnage are we willing to accept?" Biden asked, pressuring Congress to take action. "This time we have to take the time to do something," he added.

National Gun Violence Awareness Day Comes at Crucial Moment

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day; a day to wear orange in honor of victims and survivors of gun violence.

The movement began after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was fatally shot on a playground in Chicago in 2013. Since 2015, National Gun Violence Awareness Day has fallen each year on the first Friday of June.

Orange is the color that hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

"After we lost Hadiya, there were a lot of emotions going on," Nza-Ari Khepra, a founding member and president of Project Orange Tree, an organization started by Pendleton's friends, told CNN in 2015. "The conversation motivated students and community members to get involved."

Several gun control organizations and advocates observe the day by wearing orange and sharing the hashtag #WearOrange. This includes Moms Demand Action, Everytown and Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gun violence survivor and gun control advocate.

This year, National Gun Violence Awareness Day comes at a crucial time. With several deadly mass shootings happening across the country within the past few weeks, the country is in the middle of renewed bipartisan debate over gun control legislation.