President Biden is visiting Buffalo on Tuesday, seeking to console a grieving community reeling from a mass shooting police say was racially motivated. Biden will condemn the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and again push for congressional action on gun control, The Hill reports.
Whether there will be a robust policy response to either the proliferation of firearms or the spread of hate speech and white supremacist ideology remains to be seen. The gunman opened fire on customers at a grocery store, killing 10 people and wounding three, most of them Black.
Past efforts to enact gun control legislation have repeatedly failed on Capitol Hill for years, no matter the degree of tragedy or death from regular mass shootings around the U.S., and there’s no sign the latest massacre will make a difference in that regard.
The Buffalo attack was at least the 200th mass shooting of the year, averaging about 10 per week, says the Gun Violence Archive The group defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed, excluding the shooter. Before Buffalo, the largest-scale mass shooting this year was at a car show in Dumas, Ar., on March 19. That attack killed one person and injured 27.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVA, who has regularly broken with Democrats to block gun control bills, said late Monday that he would support a measure he’s sponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would expand background checks but ultimately admitted its stall in Congress in the nearly one decade since the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“We can’t even get Manchin-Toomey, which didn’t violate anyone’s rights. It just said there should not be a commercial transaction unless there’s a background check,” Manchin said. “It’s the most, I think it’s the most agreed upon, it’s the most accepted in the country and we can’t even get that done.”
A White House official said Biden “will call this despicable act for what it is: terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation. He’ll call on all Americans to give hate no safe harbor, and to reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize, divide us, and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday."
Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to ban assault-style weapons and pass background checks legislation in the wake of other mass shootings, such as the Atlanta spa incident last year.
Those calls have gone unanswered as other priorities have piled up at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
The legislative filibuster, a 60-vote threshold, also prevents Democrats from passing most pieces of legislation through the Senate if they do not have support from 10 Republicans.
Other advocates are calling on Biden to do more with his executive authority to root out white supremacy.
Luis Hernandez of Youth Over Guns, urged Biden to establish a committee to analyze the threat posed by white supremacy and bring with him to Buffalo concrete policy solutions for addressing hate crimes.
A cache of online postings suggests months of preparation preceded Saturday’s racist massacre in Buffalo and shows how the suspect evaded a state law that could have prevented him from owning a gun, the New York Times reports.
New York’s so-called red-flag law took effect in 2019, allowing judges to bar people believed to be dangerous from possessing firearms. Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old accused in the Tops supermarket massacre, Saturday, was able to buy an assault-style weapon despite having been held for a mental health-evaluation last year after making a threatening remark at his high school.
He described the remark responding to a school project question by writing that he wanted to commit a murder-suicide as a joke and was released.
His postings that came to light on Monday make it evident that he was lying.
“I got out of it because I stuck with the story that I was getting out of class and I just stupidly wrote that down,” Gendron wrote. “That is the reason I believe I am still able to purchase guns. It was not a joke, I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.”
On Monday, state police confirmed that they did not seek a red-flag order against Gendron, who is now charged with one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent history.
The newly discovered writings appear to have been posted on Discord, a chat application, by a user named Jimboboiii before being uploaded to internet forums as a pair of comprehensive documents. They feature thousands of lines of racist, antisemitic and often rambling remarks, and include details on how Gendron planned and practiced for his attack and paid for his weapons and other equipment.