Joe Biden’s walk was notably slow and deliberate as he stepped off the presidential helicopter and made his way into the White House Tuesday evening. On the 17-hour return flight from Japan on Air Force One, Biden received news of the tragic shooting at Uvalde Elementary School in Texas.
“I had hoped when I became President I would not have to do this—again. Another massacre,” Biden said in remarks to the nation from the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing.
EducationWeek maintained a list of all incidents in which a shooter with a gun attacked or killed schoolchildren. This was the 27th incident this year. The killings of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde occurred just 10 days earlier when a gunman dressed as a white supremacist shot at Black students in Buffalo. He used an AR-15 rifle with large ammunition clips and killed 10 Black victims inside the supermarket.
“As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
President Obama described feeling lost after the loss of a child. He seemed to be drawing from his personal experiences of losing Beau Biden, his 1-year-old son, in 2015 and Naomi, his first wife Neilia, in a 1972 car accident. “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,” Biden said.
As a presidential candidate, Biden promised to “end” the country’s scourge of gun violence. But there isn’t enough political will in Congress to strengthen federal gun control laws. There hasn’t been for decades. One of Biden’s most significant legislative accomplishments as a U.S. senator was helping pass a ban on assault weapons in 1994. Congress let that ban expire in 2004. Shooters can use high-capacity magazines and rapid fire weapons to break through more bodies.
Speaking to the nation Tuesday evening, Biden said that mass shootings declined after Congress passed gun control legislation in the ‘90s. Biden stated that shootings increased after the assault weapon ban was repealed. “I am sick and tired of it. We must act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage,” he said.
Biden made his vice president’s office a command station to ensure that Congress passed gun control laws a decade ago after twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut. None made it to President Obama’s desk. The initiatives couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. “Why do we keep letting this happen?” Biden asked.
Gallup’s polling found that the vast majority of Americans favour stricter gun laws. Gallup polling shows that fifty-two percent believe stricter laws should apply to firearm sales. This number dropped from 67 to 0 percent in favor for tougher gun regulations in 2018, but it has remained steady in recent years.
Biden stood in front of the White House following the Texas school shooting and said that he intended to humiliate opponents of gun control. “We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country. It’s time to act. It’s time for those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we have to let you know we will not forget. We can do so much more. We have to do more.”
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