Oregon District survivor says federal gun bill a ‘small step’

Dion Green attends White House event celebrating signing of a bipartisan gun reform legislation

An Oregon District mass shooting survivor who has advocated for tougher gun laws and less violence stood on the White House lawn Monday with President Joe Biden and others who celebrated the signing of a bipartisan gun reform bill.

Dion Green said watching the president speak on the White House’s South Lawn about gun violence and putting a stop to it was a fulfilling experience.

“(I felt) very honored to be there and watch him sign this bill into law and celebrate these moments with my fellow survivors from across the country that I’ve been working with non-stop,” Green said.

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The legislation toughens background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged to be dangerous. Most of its $13 billion cost will help bolster mental health programs and aid schools, which have been targeted in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida, and elsewhere in mass shootings.

Although it was introduced in the fall, passage in both houses of Congress followed increased clamor to “do something” following two deadly mass shootings in May at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Green was with his father, 57-year-old Derrick Fudge of Springfield, when a shooter attacked the Oregon District on Aug. 4, 2019. Fudge was one of nine victims killed. In memory of his father, Green, also a Springfield native, started the FUDGE Foundation. He hosts community events and travels to suffering communities to support those dealing with trauma.

He recently traveled to Buffalo and Uvalde after mass shootings there.

The president signed the bipartisan gun bill into law on June 25, calling it “a historic achievement” at the time. Biden hosted hundreds of guests on the South Lawn, including a bipartisan group of lawmakers who crafted and supported the legislation, state and local official and the families of victims of both mass shootings and everyday gun violence.

“I thought it was amazing,” Green said. “He (Biden) said some words that obviously all of us have been saying: this is just the beginning and there is more that needs to be done. But this is the beginning.”

Biden called the gun violence in America an epidemic and said the country is “awash in weapons of war.” He said Congress should pass legislation to hold gun owners legally accountable if their weapons are improperly stored and are used to commit violence.

Meanwhile, Buckeye Firearm Association Executive Director Dean Rieck said in a post on its website that the bill signed by Biden is unlikely do anything but waste tax dollars. He also said there are many questions about how the new law will be enforced.

“There’s a lot here that will end up being based on subjective standards rather than objective standards, which means those with bad intent could misuse these laws,” Rieck said.

Rieck also said that the law could lead to further gun control measures and that it will impact people who follow the law more than those who commit crimes.

Green said the new law is a “small step” in the right direction but he believes it will keep communities safer.

“As long as we continue to keep working together, I think that we can keep moving forward and save more lives because right now this will save lives due to the increase in mental health and money being involved into the school and doing extensive background checks,” Green said.

“It’s just one day at a time,” he said.

Along with attending the White House event, Green also on Monday spoke with representatives at the Capitol building.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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