U.S. President Joe Biden marked 10 years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Wednesday by saying Americans should have “societal guilt” for failing to address gun violence appropriately in the decade since.
The rampage at the school on Dec. 14, 2012 – when a heavily armed gunman killed 20 young children and six educators – shocked the country and has been followed by an epidemic of mass shootings.
“We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem. We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again,” Biden said in a statement.
“We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul 10 years ago to turn their pain into purpose,” he said.
The Democratic president has renewed vows to secure a new ban on assault weapons in the United States and has turned up the heat on lawmakers to pass legislation before his party loses control of the U.S. House of Representatives next month.
In his statement, Biden noted that in June he signed into law a bipartisan bill that includes provisions intended to help states keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
“Still, we must do more. I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America,” he said.
“Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers,” Biden said. “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.”
Democratic former President Barack Obama, who was in the White House when the Sandy Hook massacre took place, said in a statement that he considered that day “the single darkest day of my presidency,” but that more recently, “I’ve sensed that slowly, steadily, the tide is turning; that real change is possible. And I feel that way in no small part because of the families of Sandy Hook Elementary.”