President Biden opened his remarks from the White House Tuesday night with a deep sigh, after a shooter killed at least 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Texas. It was a sigh indicative of a fresh horror and yet, an all-too familiar one.
“I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this — again,” the president said, with longtime teacher first lady Jill Biden at his side. “Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — see their friends die, as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”
Tuesday’s mass shooting took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on the students’ last week of school before summer break. Mr. Biden was on his way back from Asia when it happened, and after he was briefed, he ordered the flags at the White House and all other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff.
“What struck me on that 17-hour flight what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?” the president questioned. “They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”
A somber but frustrated president said he is “sick and tired” of mass shootings like this, and “we have to act.”
“As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Mr. Biden said. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
He said it’s been 3,448 days since he stood up at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, in 2012. Since then, he said there have been over 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds.
Two law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News that the 18-year-old shooter had a handgun, AR-15 rifle and high-capacity magazines. The gunman’s motivation is unclear at this time.
On Tuesday night, the president urged Congress to pass “common-sense” gun laws.
“We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy. But we know they work, and have a positive impact,” the president said of gun restriction measures. “… The idea that an 18-year-old kid 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.”