The Big Stories: First presidential debate set for Thursday evening, and reactions to a gun violence declaration

Gun Rights

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump prepare for the first debate of the presidential election, and Rep. Maxwell Frost reacts to a new warning on gun violence. 


Biden, Trump to meet in Atlanta for first debate of 2024 election

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President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face off for the first time in four years in a historic debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta. Get updates from the Spectrum News team.

Supreme Court allows emergency abortions in Idaho, for now

The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily allowed abortions to be performed in Idaho in cases of medical emergencies, despite the state’s strict ban on the procedure.

The decision a major win for the Biden administration and reproductive rights advocates, albeit a temporary one.

The decision comes one day after the ruling was briefly posted on the court’s website and taken down. The premature release of the document hearkened back to the release of a draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision — which overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion  — a month before the high court officially handed down the ruling.

Additionally, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a nationwide settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma that would have shielded members of the Sackler family who own the company from civil lawsuits connected to the opioid epidemic, but also would have provided billions of dollars to combat it.

Frost reacts to surgeon general’s warning on guns

Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost of Orlando is praising the surgeon general for calling gun violence a public health emergency and recommending actions like mandatory background checks for buying military-style semi-automatic rifles, and more funding for state and local governments to conduct gun violence prevention research.

“When the surgeon general puts out a report advisory like this, declaring something a public health crisis, when we look in the history of this country, similar reports and advisories were given before there was landmark action on seatbelts,” Frost said. “Similar things were put out before there were actions on smoking.”

Two years ago, Congress passed the first major federal gun safety law in more than a generation, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, following mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, N.Y.

But Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress at the time.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said he hopes his new advisory will de-politicize the issue.

“I certainly know that the issue of gun violence has been politicized and polarized over the years, but my hope is this advisory is that we can actually take it out of the realm of politics and put it into the realm of public health, which is where it belongs,” Murphy said.

But the National Rifle Association opposes the advisory and its recommendations.

“This is an extension of the Biden Administration’s war on law-abiding gun owners. America has a crime problem caused by criminals,” the organization said in a statement.

With a divided Congress, it’s unlikely any major actions on gun reform will be taken up this year.

Frost and other gun-reform advocates say momentum to change the status quo has been growing, and that the surgeon general’s new report puts the issue back in the spotlight.

At a minimum, gun safety advocates hope it puts opponents of new gun safety measures on the defensive in an election year.

“Now we have this moment in Congress to create a renewed sense of urgency around this issue. It’s long past time for the federal government to enact universal background checks, which is one of the recommendations,” Rep. Barbary Lee of California said.

Last year, the White House created the first Federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention, it was largely modeled on legislation authored by Frost.

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