President Joe Biden today delivered a speech marking the signing of a gun safety bill passed in the wake of the recent mass shootings.

But even as lawmakers, gun reform advocates and families of victims gathered at the Southern Law ceremony said the new legislation would be meaningful, some also said it falls short of laws in place in the past, such as a ban on assault weapons, or even a ban on purchasing these firearms for those under 21. And some said it louder than others.

Manuel Oliver interrupted President Joe Biden’s speech at the White House.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Biden’s speech was interrupted by Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the Parkland, Florida shootings in 2018. Oliver could be heard shouting, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for years,” and Biden then said, “Let me finish my comments. Let me talk. Let him speak. Nobody. OK?” Oliver, who founded the group Change the Ref and is calling for much bigger action, was then escorted away.

In his speech, Biden called for an assault weapons ban and universal background checks. But these measures are out of reach in Congress due to Republican opposition.

Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act last month. The law is the result of negotiations following the shooting massacres in Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY, expands background checks for 18- to 21-year-olds, prompts states to pass “red flag” laws, and expands a law law that prohibits domestic abusers from acquiring firearms. The legislation also provides funds for school safety and mental health.

The White House ceremony came almost a week after a gunman opened fire during a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people. Biden noted the attendance of Highland Park Mayor and State Governor JB Pritzker.

“Can this really be the United States of America? How did we get here ? Biden said in his speech. “We all know some of the reasons – the gun lobby, special interest money, the rise of hyper-partisan tribal politics in the country.”

Biden said he was a Second Amendment supporter and owned four guns, but the right to bear arms was not absolute.

“The right to bear arms is not a right that dominates all others,” he said.

Although he was present at the event, Oliver criticized the idea that the ceremony at the White House would be some kind of celebration. He then told CBS News that while he welcomed the new legislation, “I am a father of a victim and I know, and I can assure you, it is far from enough.” He said he wanted the White House to open an office on gun violence prevention.

The event drew hundreds of guests to the South Lawn, and at the end of the President’s speech, the Marine Band performed Stars and Stripes Forever. But the presentation itself was even shorter and a little more low-key than past ceremonies marking milestones for the administration, including the passage of the Infrastructure Act last year and the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as President. Supreme Court.

As Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have noted, the legislation is the first major gun safety measure passed by Congress in nearly 30 years, the last being the 1994 ban on assault weapons. which was allowed to expire a decade later. Even after horrific massacres, like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, legislation stalled in the Senate. After the Uvalde shooting, in which 19 elementary students and two teachers were killed, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) helped lead bipartisan talks for legislation, leading to the final measures. The bill was opposed by the NRA, but eventually passed the House 234-193 and, after overcoming a filibuster threat, passed the Senate 65-33.

Mathew Littman, executive director of the 97% gun safety group, said the political reality is that “if gun owners aren’t on board, you have a really hard time getting anything through.” . In many polls, a majority of Americans support banning assault weapons. But Littman cited a recent NPR/Ipsos poll showing that only 42% of gun owners favor a ban on assault weapons.

Now that the federal legislation has been passed, Littman thinks the action will shift to the states, especially after the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down a New York law that limited carrying guns outdoors. from home. The state has since passed a new law to screen those applying for firearms permits.

Littman said gun laws will be another example of states diverging on a host of cultural issues. “What you’re really going to see in this country is a divide between blue and red states,” he said. “It will in many ways be two completely different countries.”