Almost two months after a deadly mass shooting shocked the community, President Joe Biden visited Monterey Park Tuesday to announce an executive order requiring background checks for all firearm purchases, increasing awareness of “red flag” laws to prevent gun possession by questionable individuals and cracking down on loss or theft of weapons during shipping.
Eleven people were killed and nine others injured during the Jan. 21 shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. After that shooting, the gunman went to the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in nearby Alhambra, but he was disarmed in the lobby by Brandon Tsay, whose family owns the studio.
Tsay was among the guests in first lady Jill Biden’s viewing box on Feb. 7 for the president’s State of the Union Address. Tsay was also on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport to greet Biden when he arrived around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Also greeting the president were Mayor Karen Bass and county Supervisor Janice Hahn.
Biden was originally expected to travel by helicopter to the San Gabriel Valley, but poor weather prompted a switch to a motorcade.
When he arrived, Biden announced the executive order, which the White House said had the “goal of increasing the number of background checks conducted before firearm sales, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation.” The order instructs the attorney general to ensure that firearm sellers who are ignorant of background check requirements or ignoring them to come in compliance, according to the White House.
“I’m here with you today to act,” Biden told the roughly 200 people gathered at the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley. The crowd included families impacted by the January shooting, along with elected officials and community leaders.
He said the executive order “will accelerate and intensify this work to save more lives more quickly,” adding that it will help “keep firearms out of dangerous hands as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearm sales.”
The order also directs members of the Cabinet to work with local communities and law enforcement where “red flag” laws are in effect allowing residents to petition a court to determine if a person presents a public danger, allowing weapons to be temporarily removed from the person’s possession.
Biden’s order also directs the departments of Transportation and Justice to work on a plan to reduce the loss or theft of firearms during shipment and bolster the reporting of such losses and thefts. According to the White House, there has been a 250% increase in the number of firearms reported lost or stolen during shipment between federally licensed firearms dealers between 2018 and 2022.
The order also includes various other provisions, including authorizing the public release of inspection records for firearms dealers cited for violating federal firearms laws; accelerating federal law enforcement reporting of ballistics data in hopes of catching shooters; improving federal support for gun violence survivors; and advancing efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons that are undetectable by metal detectors.
Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told City News Service Biden’s executive order breaks no new ground.
“Everything the president is proposing is already law,” Parades said. “(California) has the most gun control laws of any state, the most extensive background checks anywhere, is the birthplace of `red flag laws’ and still, California has more mass shootings than any state, with Texas coming in a distant second. Gun control doesn’t work.”
Parees said previously that Biden’s efforts targeting guns have generally focused “on the wrong people.”
“Given that the vast majority of criminal gun violence comes from a small number of repeat offenders, the focus needs to be on this subsection of society, rather than responsible and lawful gun owners,” Paredes told CNS.
Paredes said Biden has “consistently demonstrated his ignorance on everything related to guns and the Second Amendment, publicly stating that the Constitution and Second Amendment were `never absolute.’ He had made a number of prior comments that citizens shouldn’t be able to own popular guns that are in common use today for lawful purposes.”
Biden, during his remarks in Monterey Park, again said he is “determined once again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
“I led that fight in 1994. The 10 years that law was in place, mass shootings went down. Our Republican friends let it expire 10 years later, and mass shootings tripled since then. Tripled. So let’s finish the job. Ban assault weapons. Ban them again, do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big.”
He concluded his roughly 18-minute speech by offering comfort to the victims of the January shooting in Monterey Park.
“I know your hearts are broken, but I know your spirits are strong,” he said. “… It takes time, but I promise you — I promise you — the day will come when the memory of your loved one brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. The tear will never fully go away, but when you have that smile first … that’s when you know, that’s when you know you’re going to make it.
“… My prayer for all of you is that day will come sooner than later, and I promise you, it will come,” he said.
After his speech, Biden met privately with family members of shooting victims, and spoke to first responders before again traveling by motorcade through the rain back to LAX, from which he traveled to Las Vegas for a Democratic National Committee reception.
The trip was Biden’s first to the Los Angeles area since Oct. 12-14 when he visited a Metro construction site, spoke at a political fundraiser and at Irvine Valley College.
Biden spent Monday in the San Diego area meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to discuss the Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership known as AUKUS.