US President Joe Biden delivered an emotional call for new restrictions on firearms after a gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.
“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said at the White House shortly after returning from a five-day trip to Asia that was bookended by tragedy. With first lady Jill Biden standing by his side in the Roosevelt Room, Biden added, “I am sick and tired. We have to act.”
At least 18 students were killed, according to a state senator who said he was briefed by law enforcement, in addition to a teacher.
Just two days before Biden left on his trip, he met with victims’ families after a hate-motivated shooter killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The back-to-back tragedies served as sobering reminders of the frequency and brutality of an American epidemic of mass gun violence.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” Biden said. He directed that American flags be flown at half-staff through sunset Saturday in honor of the victims in Texas.
Vice President Kamala Harris said earlier that people normally declare in moments like this that our hearts break…”but our hearts keep getting broken … and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families. We have to have the courage to take action… to ensure something like this never happens again.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was briefed on the shooting by deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley-Dillon and other members of his senior team aboard Air Force One.
“Shortly before landing in Washington, Biden spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott from the presidential plane to offer any and all assistance he needs in the wake of the horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield tweeted.
Meanwhile, on May 14, 2022, a white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and wounding three others. Authorities had described the incident as “racially motivated violent extremism”.
The gunman wore body armour and military-style clothing during the attack on mostly Black shoppers and workers at Tops Friendly Market. For at least two minutes, he broadcast the shooting live on the streaming platform Twitch before the service ended his transmission.
Police said he shot 11 Black victims and two who were white before surrendering to police. Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on murder charges.
“It is my sincere hope that this individual, this white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime on an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven help him in the next world as well,” said Governor Kathy Hochul, speaking near the scene of the attack.
The suspected gunman was identified as Payton Gendron, of Conklin, New York, about 200 miles (320 kilometres) southeast of Buffalo.