President Biden on Sunday responded to a deadly mass shooting at an outlet mall in Texas by ordering U.S. flags at federal buildings flown at half-staff and calling on Congress to pass gun-control laws, including a ban on military-style rifles or “assault weapons.”
The president said he was praying for the victims and families impacted by the attack that killed eight people and wounded seven Saturday at a mall in Allen, Texas.
He also expressed gratitude to the first responders who killed the gunman, but said the tragedy was “all too familiar.”
“Yesterday, an assailant in tactical gear armed with an AR-15 style assault weapon gunned down innocent people in a shopping mall, and not for the first time. Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar. And yet, American communities have suffered roughly 200 mass shootings already this year, according to leading counts,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “More than 14,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives, credible estimates show. The leading cause of death for American kids is gun violence.”
Police did not immediately provide details about the victims at Allen Premium Outlets, a sprawling outdoor shopping center, but witnesses reported seeing children among them. Some said they also saw what appeared to be a police officer and a mall security guard unconscious on the ground.
An Allen Police Department officer was in the area on an unrelated call when he heard shots Saturday afternoon, the department wrote on Facebook.
“The officer engaged the suspect and neutralized the threat. He then called for emergency personnel,” the post said.
Mr. Biden repeated his call for Congress to send him a bill banning assault weapons, a plea he makes following most mass shootings. He said Congress also needs to pass a ban on high-capacity magazines, enact universal background checks, require safe storage of firearms and end legal immunity that prevents lawsuits against gun manufacturers for crimes committed with their products.
“I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe,” Mr. Biden said.
Gun rights groups have objected to most new restrictions and vehemently opposed bans on military-style semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15, which is often used in mass shootings but is also the most popular style of rifle sold in the U.S.
It is doubtful a significant gun-control bill could pass Congress with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding a narrow majority in the Senate.
The president last year signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that expanded background checks to include juvenile records, closed the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent ex-romantic partners accused of domestic abuse from buying firearms and incentivizes states to adopt “red flag” laws.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports. » …