President Joe Biden today sought comfort in a city grieving over the murder of 19 elementary school students and two teachers at the hands of a lone gunman.
Accompanied by chants of “do something” as he left a church service to meet privately with families in Uvalde, Texas, the scene of this week’s school shooting, Mr Biden replied: “We will do”.
The visit to Uvalde was Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to console a community mourning a staggering loss after a shooting.
He traveled to Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet with families of victims and condemn white supremacy after a gunman killed 10 black people in a supermarket.
At Robb Elementary School, Mr. Biden stopped in front of a memorial of 21 white crosses – one for each of those killed – and First Lady Jill Biden added a bouquet of white flowers to a pile in front of the sign of the school. They saw individual altars erected in memory of each student, and Ms Biden touched the photos of the children as the couple moved along the row.
The shootings and their aftermath have exposed the country’s entrenched divisions and its inability to forge consensus on actions to reduce gun violence.
“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocent people died,” Biden said in a speech at the University of Delaware on Saturday. . “We have to be stronger. We must be stronger. We can’t ban tragedy, I know that, but we can make America safer.
After visiting the memorial, Mr Biden attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where some families of victims worship. As he left to meet privately with family members, a crowd of around 100 began chanting “do something”. Mr. Biden replied, “We will,” as he got into his car.
It was not immediately clear what the president was suggesting. He also planned to meet with first responders before returning home to Delaware.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed on Tuesday, said she respects Mr Biden’s decision to mourn with the people of Uvalde.
“It’s more than mourning,” she said. “We want change. We want action. It continues to be something that happens over and over and over again. A mass shooting occurs. It’s on the news. People are crying. Then it’s gone. Nobody cares. And then it happens again. And even.
“If there’s anything if I could say to Joe Biden, as he is, just respect our community while he’s here, and I’m sure he will,” he said. -she adds. “But we need change. We have to do something about it.
Mr Biden turned himself in amid scrutiny of the police response to the shooting. Officials revealed Friday that students and teachers repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help as a police commander told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway. Officials said the commander believed the suspect was barricaded in an adjacent classroom and there was no longer an active attack.
The revelation caused more heartbreak and raised new questions about whether lives were lost because officers did not act faster to arrest the shooter, who was ultimately killed by Border Patrol tactical agents .
The Justice Department said Sunday it would review law enforcement’s response and release its findings.
“It’s easy to point fingers right now,” Uvalde County Commissioner Ronnie Garza said on CBS. Confront the Nationbefore adding, “Our community needs to be focused on healing right now.”
Authorities said the shooter legally purchased two weapons shortly before the school attack: an AR-type rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had just turned 18, which allowed him to purchase the guns under federal law.
Hours after the shooting, Mr. Biden launched an impassioned plea for additional gun control legislation, asking, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? »
Over the years, Mr. Biden has been intimately involved in the gun control movement’s most notable successes, such as the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, and his disappointments. more troubling ones include the failure to pass new legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
As president, Mr. Biden attempted to address gun violence through executive orders. He faces few new options now, but executive action might be the best the president can do, given Washington’s sharp divisions over gun control legislation.
In Congress, a bipartisan group of senators met over the weekend to see if they could reach even a modest compromise on gun safety legislation after a decade of mostly unsuccessful efforts. .
Encouraging state “red flag” laws to keep guns away from people with mental health issues and addressing school safety and mental health resources were on the table, said Sen. Chris Murphy, who is leading the effort.
While there isn’t enough Republican support in Congress for broader gun safety proposals popular with the public, including a new ban on assault weapons or universal background checks on gun purchases, Murphy told ABC. This week that these other ideas are “not trivial”
The group will meet again next week within 10 days to reach an agreement.
“There are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a way forward this time than I’ve seen since Sandy Hook,” said Murphy, who represented the Newtown area as a congressman at the moment of the Sandy Hook shooting.
“And while at the end of the day I may end up heartbroken, I’m more meaningfully at the table right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before.”