As Americans across the country celebrated Independence Day on Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for stricter gun control measures and condemned a wave of gun attacks just before the holiday.
Five people were killed and four were wounded in a shooting in the city of Philadelphia on Monday night, according to police reports. Another overnight attack in Fort Worth, Texas claimed the lives of three people and injured eight, according to CNN.
And until this Tuesday afternoon, the country had already registered several shooting attacks on Independence Day. Five people were injured in Lansing, Michigan, and four in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) said.
Another episode, in Akron, Ohio, attended by police in the early hours of Tuesday, left four injured, according to local press.
“In recent days, our nation has once again faced a wave of tragic and senseless shootings in communities across the United States,” Biden said in a statement, citing the Philadelphia, Fort Worth and Lansing incidents, as well as recent ones in Baltimore, Wichita, Kansas and Chicago.
“As our nation celebrates Independence Day, we pray for the day when our communities are free from gun violence,” the president declared.
At a Fourth of July holiday parade last year in Highland Park, Illinois, outside Chicago, a gunman killed seven people and injured dozens. This year, the suburb planned a memorial service instead of a traditional parade and festivities, officials said.
“In a matter of moments, this day of patriotic pride became a scene of pain and tragedy,” Biden said, referring to the one-year anniversary of the attack.
In Philadelphia, police said they had arrested the gunman, although his motive was still unknown. “We have absolutely no idea why this happened,” said local police commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
The suspect, a 40-year-old man wearing a bulletproof vest and a ski mask, fired a military-style assault rifle at random at vehicles and pedestrians in the Kingsessing neighborhood, Police Inspector Ernest Ransom said.
Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, no arrests were reported as of Tuesday afternoon. “I am devastated by the news of a mass shooting in Fort Worth last night,” Mayor Mattie Parker said on Twitter.
There have been at least 346 mass shootings in the United States this year, according to the GVA file. The institution includes incidents with firearms in which four or more people were injured or killed, in addition to the person who fired the shots.
Last year, more than 44,000 people were killed by firearms, 24,000 of them by suicide.
“Much more needs to be done … to address the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our communities apart,” said Biden, who praised the gun control measures passed in Illinois after the Highland Park attack.
“I urge other states to follow Illinois’s example, and I continue to urge Republican lawmakers in Congress to join the discussions on meaningful and sensible reforms supported by the American people.”