U.S. President Joe Biden renewed the Democrats’ push for tighter gun control laws Tuesday night, hours after a lone gunman killed at the very least 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“We as a nation must ask when in God’s name are we going to arise to the gun lobby. When in God’s name will we do what everyone knows in our gut must be done?” Biden asked in a somber address following one other school massacre that evoked the pain of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting of 2012.
The suspected shooter, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was fatally wounded by police who responded to the attack at Robb Elementary School, in line with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The shooting rocked the nation and the roughly 15,200 residents of Uvalde, which is positioned about 80 miles west of San Antonio and just over an hour’s drive to the Mexico border.
Texas state police told NBC News later Tuesday that the shooter killed at the very least 19 kids and two adults. Previous reports had indicated that 18 kids and as many as three adults had been killed.
The mass casualty incident was first reported shortly after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The president, who lost a young daughter in a automobile accident and an adult son to cancer, told parents of the victims that losing a toddler is “like having a chunk of your soul ripped away.”
“Tonight, I ask the nation to hope for them,” he said. Earlier within the evening, he ordered that the U.S. flag be flown at half staff on the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds.
Biden unleashed anger on the U.S. gun industry, which he blamed for years of stalled progress on gun control measures on the ground on the U.S. Congress.
Biden spoke to Abbott and offered “any and all assistance he needs” to reply to the shooting, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a tweet.
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The college shooting evoked horrific memories of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 kids and 6 adults dead and the Columbine High School shooting of 1999 that killed 12 students and one teacher.
The Uvalde massacre is the second mass shooting to rock the country in 10 days following an attack at a food market in Buffalo, Recent York.
Elected officials from across the country sent an outpouring of sympathy to the victims of the shooting. Supporters of stricter gun safety measures expressed outrage that a killer used firearms in yet one more school massacre.
Vice President Kamala Harris called for “sensible public policy”
“I’d normally say in a moment like this — we’d all say naturally — that our hearts break. But our hearts keep getting broken,” she said. “As a nation, we’ve got to have the courage to take motion and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to make sure something like this never happens again.”
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, urged his colleagues to take meaningful motion to deal with gun violence.
“Why do you spend all this time running for the USA Senate, why do you undergo all the trouble of getting this job, of putting yourself in position of authority in case your answer because the slaughter increases, as our youngsters run for his or her lives, we do nothing?” asked Murphy, who in 2012 represented the U.S. House district where a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook.
“What are we doing? Why are you here if not to unravel an issue as existential as this?” he added.
“I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues,” Murphy said. “Discover a path forward here. Work with us to seek out a method to pass laws that make this less likely.”
The American flag flies at half-staff on the White House in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
On his way off the Senate floor, Murphy scoffed at the thought, routinely raised by Republican lawmakers after mass shootings, that the issue was mental illness, not the widespread prevalence of firearms in America.
“Now we have mass shooting after mass shooting and, you recognize, spare me the bullshit about mental illness,” Murphy told reporters. “We haven’t any more mental illness than some other country on this planet.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the shooting, a “cold-blooded massacre.”
“For too long, some in Congress have offered hole words after these shootings while opposing all efforts to save lots of lives,” Pelosi said in a press release. “It’s time for all in Congress to heed the desire of the American people and take part enacting the House-passed bipartisan, commonsense, life-saving laws into law.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that reforming gun laws is just not the answer to what he called “yet one more act of evil and mass murder.”
“Inevitably when there is a murder of this type, you see politicians attempt to politicize it,” Cruz said. “You see Democrats and a variety of folks within the media whose immediate solution is to try to limit the constitutional rights of law abiding residents. That does not work. It isn’t effective.”