President Biden opened his remarks at the White House Tuesday night with a deep sigh after a The shooter killed at least 18 children and one adult at a Texas elementary school. It was a sigh that suggested fresh terror, yet was all too familiar.
“I was hoping when I became president that I wouldn’t have to do that again,” said the president, with longtime teacher First Lady Jill Biden at his side. “Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. A primary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, and fourth graders. And how many dozens of little kids who witnessed what happened – seeing their friends die as if they were on a battlefield, for God’s sake they’ll live with it for the rest of their lives.”
Tuesday’s mass shooting took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during the students’ last week of school before summer vacation. Mr. Biden was on his way back from Asia when it happened, and after being briefed, ordered flags at the White House and all other federal buildings to be flown at half-mast.
“What struck me on that 17-hour flight was that this type of mass shooting doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Why?” asked the President. “You have mental problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. You have people who are lost, but these types of mass shootings never happen with the frequency they do in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this? bloodbath?”
A somber but frustrated president said he was “sick and tired” of mass shootings like this one and “we must act”.
“As a nation, we have to ask ourselves when in God’s name are we going to take a stand against the gun lobby?” Mr Biden said. “When in God’s name are we going to do what we all know in our guts needs to be done?”
He said it had been 3,448 days since he got up at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, in 2012. Since then, more than 900 incidents of gunshots have been reported on school grounds.
Two law enforcement agencies confirmed to CBS News that the 18-year-old gunman had a handgun, an AR-15 rifle and high-capacity magazines. The shooter’s motivation is currently unclear.
On Tuesday night, the president called on Congress to pass “healthy” gun laws.
“We cannot and will not prevent every tragedy. But we know they work and have positive effects,” the president said of measures to limit guns. “…The notion that an 18-year-old boy can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also addressed the mass shooting at the beginning of a speech Tuesday night, saying, “Our hearts keep getting broken” and “enough is enough.”