US President Joe Biden sought to strike an optimistic note of unity in an Independence Day speech on Monday overshadowed by a mass shooting at a holiday parade in a Chicago suburb.
Addressing a July 4 barbeque for military families at the White House, Biden said he was confident America could pull through what he acknowledged were “unsettling” times.
“The economy is growing, but not without pain. Liberty is under assault, assault both here and abroad,” Biden said.
“In recent days, there has been reason to think that this country is moving backward, that freedom has been reduced, that rights we assumed were protected are no longer.”
Biden was referring to a rapid succession of Supreme Court rulings that overturned the 50-year-old federal right to abortion, expanded gun rights for people wishing to bear them in public, and limited the government’s ability to fight climate change.
“I know it can be exhausting and unsettling, but tonight, I want you to know that we’re going to get through all of this,” he added.
In his speech, Biden made only a passing reference to the morning shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, in which a gunman killed six people and injured two dozen more by firing on a parade with a high-powered rifle.
In an earlier statement, he had condemned the “senseless” act of violence and vowed to keep fighting what he called the epidemic of gun violence in America.
The country has seen at least 309 mass shooting so far this, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an advocacy group.