Biden shares 'shock' at July 4th parade mass shooting: 'More work to do' to stop gun violence

The president said federal officials were helping search for the gunman.

July 4, 2022, 6:23 PM

President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon shared his "shock" and support after a deadly mass shooting at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb earlier that day -- the latest in an ever-longer string of mass shootings in America.

In his statement, Biden also noted the threat posed by the suspected gunman, who had not yet been taken into custody.

“Jill and I are shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day. As always, we are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement on the scene. I have spoken to Governor Pritzker and Mayor Rotering, and have offered the full support of the Federal government to their communities," Biden said, referencing first lady Jill Biden and Illinois officials.

"I also surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter, who remains at large at this time," the president said.

“Members of the community should follow guidance from leadership on the ground, and I will monitor closely as we learn more about those whose lives have been lost and pray for those who are in the hospital with grievous injuries,” he added.

In separate comments during a surprise visit to a Santa Monica, California, fire station, Vice President Kamala Harris said she and Biden "have been in close coordination and we are being briefed on what's happening right now in terms of the active shooter situation. We are sending federal resources to local law enforcement folks on the ground to make sure that we can help them in terms of the capture of the shooter and any investigation that will follow."

Harris noted she was set to travel to Chicago Tuesday morning to address the National Education Association.

"I was just sharing with some of our heroes, our local firefighters, that part of what I'm preparing -- sadly I was preparing it before, it's resonant every day -- is a whole section on what our teachers go through. They go to school to learn how to teach our children, to inspire their ambition, to create the future generations of leaders, and our teachers are also in training to deal with an active shooter," Harris said. "Our teachers are having to learn how to put a tourniquet on a kid if they have been shot."

"And so when we look at the issue of gun violence and when we look at the dangers that it presents to communities, it ranges and it is something that we should take very seriously," she said.

In a written statement, Harris said, in part: "On what should be a celebratory day with family and friends, we are grieving the lives that were taken in another act of senseless gun violence in Highland Park, Illinois. Doug and I are praying for the dozens of people who have been hospitalized and for the loved ones of those who were lost today.

"We are thankful to law enforcement and the first responders who arrived at the scene today and undoubtedly saved lives," she continued. "Today’s shooting is an unmistakable reminder that more should be done to address gun violence in our country."

Their comments -- echoed by a range of local leaders, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and others -- come after at least six people were killed and another 24 seriously hurt at a shooting during a parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The NorthShore University Health System said Monday it had a total of 31 patients, most of whom suffered gunshot wounds and some of whom were hurt in the chaos.

Police said the suspected gunman is believed to be a young, white man.

Authorities initially called the shooting a "random act of violence." A further motive has not been confirmed.

Biden said in his statement Monday that “I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence."

As he referenced, Congress just passed anti-gun violence legislation that included modest firearm reforms and boosts to background checks for young people with funding for mental health, school security and more. The deal was the most comprehensive legislation on the issue since the 1990s.

Among other measures, the new law focused on illegal gun traffickers and closed the so-called "boyfriend loophole" to restrict more people convicted of domestic violence from obtaining a firearm.

The legislation also incentivizes states to adopt "red flag" laws, which allow law enforcement to remove guns from those deemed a danger to themselves or others, and it boosted background checks for gun buyers between 18 and 21 years old.

The bipartisan talks that led to the legislation were sparked by other mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

Biden and other Democrats had called on the narrowly divided Congress to take more sweeping action -- including reinstating the ban on assault-style weapons often used in such massacres. Republican lawmakers have long resisted gun laws, arguing they violate the Second Amendment.

The National Rifle Association likewise voiced its opposition to the "overbroad" new gun bill that "falls short at every level."

"This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians," the group said last month. "This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials."

Biden had previously planned a low-key July 4 at the White House.

He returned to Washington from the presidential retreat at Camp David early Monday afternoon before a planned July Fourth barbecue on the South Lawn for military families. The Bidens were also scheduled to watch the fireworks on the National Mall from the White House at 9 p.m. ET.

Earlier in the day, the president looked to sound an optimistic tone ahead of the festivities -- subsequently darkened by the Highland Park killings.

“The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country – it's a time to celebrate the goodness of our nation, the only nation on Earth founded based on an idea: that all people are created equal,” Biden tweeted. “Make no mistake, our best days still lie ahead.”

Biden had also been expected to keep his public remarks throughout the day short after his highly anticipated declaration last year that the country was “closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus” came right before COVID-19's delta variant swept through the U.S.

ABC News' Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

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