During a press conference held in Washington, D.C. on Monday to unveil new ghost gun regulations, President Joe Biden honored the victims of the Saugus High School shooting.
In a ceremony held on the White House lawn, Biden announced that ghost guns, such as the one used on Nov. 14, 2019, that took the lives of Saugus High’s Dominic Blackwell and Gracie Muehlberger, will now be held to stricter standards under federal requirements.
The new restrictions will require purchasers of ghost guns — largely unregulated, untraceable weapons made from kits — to undergo background checks, similar to ones required for regular firearms. Additionally, the new policy will require serial numbers be placed on ghost guns and ghost gun component kits, making it thereby easier, Biden said, for law enforcement to track the weapons and their purchasers.
“Starting today, weapons like the one used in Saugus High School and to ambush deputies that are here with us today, are being treated like the deadly firearms that they are,” Biden said to the crowd that included media, survivors and their families.
The president then asked the parents of Blackwell and Muehlberger to stand and be recognized by those in attendance before inviting them into the Oval Office after the conclusion of the press conference.
Biden said that the new policies for ghost guns stemmed from the advocacy of the Saugus High parents and survivors, as well as various other advocates who had themselves experienced trauma or loss as the result of guns that could be purchased anonymously over the internet.
“You’ve now joined a terrible fellowship of loss that many people have experienced,” Biden said directly to the Saugus High students’ parents. “There are too many survivors and advocates here for me to name everyone today, but let me say that the loss in this crowd is incalculable. But so is the strength… I believe our nation will be safer for your bravery.”
According to officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, in 2021 alone there were approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to ATF as being connected to criminal investigations — a tenfold increase since 2016.
Before Biden took to the microphone, he invited Saugus shooting survivor Mia Tretta up to the podium to specifically share her story from that day. Tretta said that, hours before her classmates died and she was shot in the abdomen, her biggest worry that morning was a Spanish test.
She would learn, soon after being airlifted from Centurion Way and receiving a successful surgery to remove the bullet that had been only millimeters away from a major artery, that her best friend had been killed and other classmates had been wounded as well.
“School shootings with ghost guns are on the rise, and the most lasting thing I’ve learned — other than the loss of friends or the shattering of my youth… (is that) nothing has relieved the pain in my heart like working to prevent more senseless shootings,” Tretta said. “My family and I joined Every Town for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action and I worked with thousands of other young activists and survivors to prevent more things like this from happening.”
Tretta added: “They turned my pain into progress; that’s why we’re here today: celebrating progress, life-saving progress.”