WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — President Joe Biden, visibly upset and distraught, called for new restrictions on gun ownership after a man walked into a Texas school and killed 19 students.
Biden spoke Tuesday night, just an hour after returning from a five-day tour of Asia during which several fatal shootings occurred in the United States.
He pleaded for action to tackle gun violence after years of failure, and bitterly blamed gunmakers and their supporters for preventing legislation from passing Congress.
“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to gun industry lobbyists?” Biden said, visibly moved. “Why are we willing to live with this violence? Why do we keep letting this happen?
With first lady Jill Biden at his side, the president — who has lost two of his children, though not to gun violence — spoke in visceral terms about the anguish of those who lost their children and the pain that will accompany the survivors.
“Losing a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped out,” Biden said. “There is an emptiness in the chest and one feels that it sinks in there and that it will never come out.”
He asked the entire nation to pray for the families of the victims, but also to act so that this does not happen again.
“It’s time to turn this pain into action,” he said.
At least 19 students and two adults were killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The attacker was killed by police, according to authorities.
Just a week earlier, Biden, just before his trip to Asia, traveled to Buffalo, upstate New York, to meet with relatives of another massacre there, where a racist man killed 10 black people in a supermarket.
The back-to-back tragedies underscored the frequency and brutality of the epidemic of gun violence engulfing the United States.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen in other countries,” Biden declared, noting that there is racism and hate and people with psychiatric disorders in other countries as well, but no other industrialized nation experiences gun violence like the United States.
“Why?” he asked.
Correspondents Lisa Mascaro, Michael Balsamo, Alan Fram, and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this story.