While the United States was still reeling from the mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, just two weeks ago, President Joe Biden addressed Americans following the horrific Tuesday’s shooting at a Texas elementary school that left at least 18 young children dead.
A clearly emotional Biden addressed the nation from the Roosevelt Room of the White House about an hour after returning from a five-day trip to Asia and about two hours after ordering Air Force One that the flag floating above the White House be lowered to half-staff.
“I had hoped, when I became president, that I wouldn’t have to do this again,” Biden began. “Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful second, third and fourth graders,” he said.
“As a nation we must ask when in the name of God are we going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said, raising his voice. “I’m fed up and I’m fed up – we have to act.”
Two adults, including a teacher from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were also killed by the 18-year-old suspect — believed to be a student at Uvalde High School — who also died, according to Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, with whom Biden spoke on the way back to Washington.
Less than two weeks ago, just before Biden went overseas, he was in Buffalo sentencing an alleged white supremacist accused of killing 10 black people in their daily lives at a local supermarket.
There, he called on Congress to “keep the weapons of war off our streets.”
Shortly before Biden spoke, Vice President Kamala Harris, fighting back tears, commented on the shooting as she began her pre-scheduled remarks at a gala in Washington.
“Tonight is a tough night, we have a big party planned, but I’m sure most of you have heard the tragic news of what happened in Texas,” she said.
“Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break. And our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of these families – and yet it keeps happening. So I think we all know and we said to ourselves many times: Enough is enough. Enough is enough,” she said.
“As a nation, we need to have the courage to take action and understand the connection between what makes sense and sensible public policy to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” she said. .
In February, on the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which a single gunman killed 17 students and staff, Biden again pushed lawmakers to pass legislation requiring universal background checks. and banning assault weapons, among other measures to reduce gun violence.
And last December, on the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where a single gunman killed 20 first graders and six teachers, Biden addressed the families of the victims in a White House speech, demanding that lawmakers “owe them action.”
“Because of your leadership, we have forged a broad coalition and issued over 20 executive orders,” Biden said. “We almost legislated, but we didn’t get it. It was so frustrating.”
While serving as vice president to then-President Barack Obama, Biden was tasked in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting to lead the administration’s efforts to enact tougher gun control laws. — but in the decade since the nation mourned Newtown, no action on gun control has taken place at the federal level.
Biden, like some of his predecessors, has repeatedly called for reforms to address gun violence but has faced congressional reluctance to engage on the issue.
Bills to expand and strengthen background checks passed the House Democratic majority, but failed to garner enough Republican support to cross the 60-vote threshold of Senate filibuster.
As president, Biden has used some executive powers instead, such as when he announced new regulations on so-called “shadow weapons” last month.
But asked what more he could do to address gun violence as he left Buffalo last week, Biden admitted there was “little much” he could do through government action. ‘executive.
“I have to convince Congress that we should go back to what I went through years ago,” Biden said, referring to the 1994 passage of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. .
Since Sandy Hook in 2012, the United States has suffered more than 3,500 mass shootings, according to Gun Violence Archive.