Sacramento shooting: Biden pushes for stricter gun laws

President calls on Congress to ban ghost guns and assault weapons after shooting leaves six dead

A coroner's van leaves the scene of an early-morning shooting near the Golden 1 Centre arena in Sacramento, California. Reuters

US President Joe Biden called on Congress to enact tougher gun laws as police search for two people in connection with a shooting in Sacramento, California, on Sunday that killed six people and injured at least 12.

“In a single act in Sacramento, six individuals left dead and at least a dozen more injured. Families forever changed. Survivors left to heal wounds both visible and invisible,” Mr Biden said in statement.

“But we must do more than mourn; we must act,” he added.

The president called on Congress to pass stricter gun legislation including banning “ghost” guns — unserialised firearms that are assembled at home — as well as assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Mr Biden also urged politicians to impose background checks on gun sales and remove gun manufacturers' immunity from liability.

“These are just a few of the steps Congress urgently needs to take to save lives,” he said

New York last year became the first US state to pass a law making it easier to file lawsuits against gun manufacturers and bypass the immunity held under federal law.

But passing gun legislation on the federal level has proven to be more difficult, with the issue remaining a deeply divisive topic.

Only a few Republicans last year supported a pair of Democratic gun control bills designed to expand the scope for background checks and give authorities a longer time frame to conduct background checks.

The bills remain stuck in the Senate and any meaningful reform of the US's notoriously lax gun laws remains highly improbable, with several states seeking to further loosen or scrap most regulations.

Mr Biden has repeatedly pushed for stricter federal gun laws. In his latest budget proposal, cities would receive more funding for crime prevention and intervention.

In 2020, the most recent year statistics are available, guns killed more than 45,000 people in the US. About 54 per cent of these deaths were suicides, and 43 per cent were homicides.

Sacramento police said they are searching for at least two people who opened fire at 2am on Sunday on the outskirts of the city's entertainment district.

Police Chief Kathy Lester said the “scale of violence that just happened in our city is unprecedented” during her 27-year tenure working in the city.

“We are shocked and heart-broken by this tragedy. But we are also resolved as an agency to find those responsible and to secure justice for the victims and the families,” she said at a news conference.

The gunfire erupted after a fight broke out on a street lined with bars and nightclubs, but police do not know if the fight was connected to the shooting. In videos posted online, people could be seen screaming and running for cover amid the gunfire.

The shooting occurred three blocks away from the Golden 1 Centre, home of the NBA franchise Sacramento Kings. The team held a moment of silence for the victims before Sunday night's game against the Golden State Warriors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: April 04, 2022, 4:09 PM
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