US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visit a memorial to the victims of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 17 (Image courtesy: Twitter/@POTUS)
An anguished US President Joe Biden called for a new law to restrict the purchase of firearms after a gunman shot and killed at least 19 children in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.
Biden was on his way back from the Indo-Pacific summit in Tokyo when the tragic incident happened, and after he was briefed, he ordered the flags at the White House and all other federal buildings to be flown at half-mast.
An angry Biden spoke Tuesday night from the White House barely an hour after returning from a five-day trip to Asia. He pleaded for action to address gun violence after years of failure — and bitterly blamed firearm manufacturers and their supporters for blocking legislation in Washington, according to an AP report.
'“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?" Biden said with emotion. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?"
The president said he is "sick and tired" of mass shootings like this, and "we have to act."
With first lady Jill Biden, a long-time schoolteacher, standing by his side, the president said, “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. ” Biden said. “There’s a hollowness in your chest. You feel like you’re being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out.”
He called on the nation to hold the victims and families in prayer — but also to work harder to prevent the next tragedy, “It’s time we turned this pain into action," he said.
At least 19 students were killed at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde, Texas, according to local officials. The death toll also included two adults. The gunman died after being shot by responding officers, local police said.
Merely a week earlier Biden had travelled to meet with victims' families after a racist shooter killed 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
The back-to-back tragedies reflect a tragic American epidemic of mass gun violence.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world… The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong," Biden said.
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, there have been over 900 incidents of gunfire
Since 2020, firearms have become the leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents, upstaging motor vehicle accidents, says a University of Michigan research letter published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.