(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden applauded the courage of law enforcement officers who responded to the deadly shooting on Wednesday at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and again called for restrictions on assault weapons.  

Biden, speaking just miles from the campus on Friday, called gun violence an “epidemic” and said “we need Congress to step up.”

The president, who had gone to Nevada to discuss new railroad projects, added: “Folks, we got to get smart.” 

Three people were killed and another wounded when a gunman armed with an automatic pistol opened fire on the campus. The suspect, a professor who had unsuccessfully sought employment at UNLV, was killed in a shootout with officers, police said. 

“We join the people across the country praying for the families of those killed, whose hearts have been broken by yet another horrific gun violence,” Biden said. 

There have been 39 mass shootings in the US in 2023, according to a Washington Post database, a record-setting total that illustrates the pervasive problem of gun violence in the US. 

Biden has repeatedly implored US lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws, including an assault-weapons ban, universal background checks and a bar on possessing a firearm for people posing a threat to themselves or others. 

Yet those calls have gained little traction in the divided Congress, and firearms legislation will become even more difficult to enact in 2024, an election year. Biden last year signed a bipartisan law that tightened background checks and bolstered mental-health and school-safety programs, the first major gun law to pass Congress in decades. 

(Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates gun-safety measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP.)

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