Biden says “we have to act” after the shooting at a school in Texas – Daily Local

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lamenting a unique American tragedy, an agitated and angry President Joe Biden has issued an urgent call for new restrictions on firearms after a gunman shot dead at least 19 children at a Texas elementary school.

Biden spoke Tuesday night from the White House just an hour after returning from a five-day trip to Asia that was followed by mass shootings in the United States. supporters of blocking legislation in Washington.

“When, for God’s sake, will we oppose the rifle lobby?” Said Biden excitedly. “Why are we ready to live with this carnage? Why do we continue to allow this to happen? ”

With First Lady Jill Biden standing next to him in Roosevelt Hall, the president, who suffered the loss of two of his children – albeit not through violence – spoke inwardly about the grief of loved ones and the pain it would suffer for surviving students. .

“Losing a child is like snatching a piece of your soul,” Biden said. “There is emptiness in your chest. You feel that you are involved in this and will never be able to get out. “

He called on the nation to keep victims and families in prayer, but also to work harder to prevent the next tragedy: “It is time to turn this pain into action,” he said.

At least 19 students were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uwalde, Texas, which has a large number of Latinos, local authorities said. Among the dead were also two adults. The gunman died after being shot by officers, local police said.

Just a week earlier, Biden had traveled to Buffalo on the eve of his overseas trip to meet with the families of the victims after a racist gunman filled with hatred killed 10 black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

Back-to-back tragedies served as a sober reminder of the frequency and brutality of the U.S. epidemic of gun violence.

“Such mass shootings are rare anywhere else in the world,” Biden said, noting that there are people in other countries who are full of hatred or mental health problems, but no other industrialized country is experiencing armed violence at the U.S. level.

“Why?” He asked.

It was too early to say whether the latest outbreak of violence could break the political turmoil surrounding the tightening of gun laws, after many others – including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 26 people. including 20 children – failed.

“The idea that an 18-year-old could go to a gun shop and buy two assault weapons is just wrong,” Biden said. He had previously called for a ban on assault weapons, as well as tougher federal inspection requirements and “red flag” laws that are designed to keep weapons out of the hands of people with mental health problems.

Late Tuesday, Senate Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer took possible action against two bills passed by the House of Representatives to expand mandatory federal inspections on arms purchases, but a vote was not scheduled.

Biden was grim when he returned to the White House after being instructed to shoot at Air Force One. Shortly before landing in Washington, he spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and offered “any help,” the White House said. He ordered American flags to be lowered before sunset on Saturday in honor of the victims in Texas.

His aides, some of whom have just returned from Asia with the president, gathered to watch Biden’s speech on television in the West Wing.

“I hoped that if I became president, I would not have to do it again,” he said. “Another massacre.”

In a sharp reminder of the split in the issue, Biden’s call for gun use was covered at a campaign in Georgia hosted by Herschel Walker, who won a Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Speaking at an event in the Asia-Pacific region to celebrate Biden’s trip to Asia, Vice President Kamala Harris said earlier that people usually say at such moments: “Our hearts are broken, but our hearts continue to break … and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of these families. ”

“We must have the courage to take action … to ensure that something like this never happens again,” she said.

Echoing Biden’s call, former President Barack Obama, who called the day of Sandy Hook’s execution the darkest in his administration, said: “The time for action, of any action, is long gone.”

“Michelle and I grieve with families in Uwalde who are experiencing pain that no one should suffer,” he said in a statement. “We are also angry for them. Almost ten years after Sandy Hook – and ten days after Buffalo – our country is paralyzed not by fear but by an armed lobby and a political party that has shown no willingness to act in any way to prevent these tragedies. “

Congress has failed to pass serious gun violence laws since attempts by the two parties to step up verification of firearms acquisition failed after the 2012 shooting.

Despite months of work, the bill, which was backed by a majority of senators, has suffered headlong – failing to surpass the 60-vote threshold needed to succeed.

In an ardent remarks in the Senate hall on Tuesday, Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut, who represented Newton, Connecticut, in the House of Representatives during the Sandy Hook Massacre, asked his colleagues why they even bother to run for office if they “stand and do nothing.

“I’m here on this floor to ask – literally get down on my knees – to ask my colleagues,” he said.

Murphy said he plans to appeal to Texas Sen. John Cornin, a Republican, after they teamed up to draft an earlier verification bill that never became law. He said he would also turn to another Texas senator, Ted Cruz.

“I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless,” Murphy said. “We are not.”

Cornin told reporters he was going to Texas and talking to them later. Cruz made a statement calling the day a “dark day. We are all completely sick and heartbroken. “

Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who sponsored gun legislation that failed to overcome the Senate atrocities after Sandy Hook, said, “We’re just putting pressure on people who are just not moving on.”

“It doesn’t make sense why we can’t do smart things and try not to,” he said.

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascara, Michael Balzamo, Alan Fram and Farnush Amira contributed.

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