At Robb Elementary School, Biden attended a memorial with 21 white crosses – one for each of those killed – and First Lady Jill Biden added a bouquet of white flowers to those already placed in front of the school’s sign. The couple then viewed individual altars erected to commemorate each student, with the First Lady touching the children’s photos as they moved down the line.
After visiting the memorial, Biden attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where several families of the victims live and one of the families was present.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller spoke directly to the children in the community and tried to allay the fears of the youth, some of whom appeared to be around the same age as the victims.
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“You’ve seen the news, you’ve witnessed the tears of your parents, friends,” he said, encouraging her not to be afraid of life. “You are the best reminders for us that the lives of the little ones matter.”
As Biden left the church to meet privately with family members, a crowd of about 100 people began chanting, “Do something.” Biden replied, “We will,” as he got into his car. It was his only public comment for about seven hours in Uvalde.
Biden later tweeted that he mourns, prays and stands with the people of Uvalde. “And we are committed to turning that pain into action,” he said.
The visit to Uvalde was Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to comfort a community lost in a mass shooting. He traveled to Buffalo, New York on May 17 to meet with victims’ families and to condemn white supremacy after a gunman promoting the racist “surrogate theory” killed 10 black people in a supermarket.
Both the shootings and their aftermath have shed new light on the nation’s deep-seated divisions and its inability to build consensus on measures to reduce gun violence.
“Evil came into this elementary school classroom in Texas, into this grocery store in New York, into far too many places where innocent people have died,” Biden said in an inaugural address at the University of Delaware on Saturday. “We have to be stronger. We have to be stronger. We can’t ban tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
Biden also met with first responders before returning to his home in Delaware. It was not clear if the group included officers involved in the immediate response to the shooting.
Biden visited him amid a growing scrutiny of the police response. Officials revealed Friday that students and teachers repeatedly called 911 operators for help when a police commander asked more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway. Officials said the commander believed the suspect had been barricaded in an adjacent classroom and there was no longer an active attack.
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The revelation caused more grief and raised new questions about whether lives were lost because officers didn’t act faster to stop the gunman, who was eventually killed by Border Patrol tactical officers.
The Justice Department announced on Sunday that it would review law enforcement’s response and publish its findings.
“It’s easy to point the finger at others right now,” Ronnie Garza, a Uvalde County Commissioner, said on CBS’ Face the Nation, before adding, “Our community needs to focus on healing now. “
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed Tuesday, said she respected Biden’s decision to mourn with the people of Uvalde.
“It’s more than grief,” she said. “We want change. We want action. It happens over and over again. A mass shooting happens. It’s on the news. People are crying.”
“If there’s anything I could do to tell Joe Biden how it is just to respect our community while he’s here, and I’m sure he will,” she added. “But we need changes. We have to do something about it.”
Authorities said the gunman legally purchased two guns shortly before the school was attacked: an AR-style rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had just turned 18, which allowed him to purchase the guns under federal law.
Hours after the shooting, Biden made an impassioned plea for additional gun control legislation, asking, “When in God’s name are we going to stand against the gun lobby?” Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?”
Over the years, Biden has been closely involved in the gun control movement’s most notable achievements, such as the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, and its most troubling disappointments, including the failure to pass new legislation following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
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As president, Biden has attempted to combat gun violence through executive branch orders. He now faces few new options, but executive action may be the best the president can do given Washington’s sharp divisions over gun control legislation.
In Congress over the weekend, a bipartisan group of senators discussed whether they could reach even a modest compromise on gun safety legislation after a decade of largely failed efforts.
Encouraging “red flag” legislation to keep guns away from people with mental health problems and addressing school safety and mental health resources are on the table, said Senator Chris Murphy, who is leading the effort.
While Republicans in Congress don’t have nearly enough support for broader gun safety proposals popular with the public, including a new ban on assault weapons or universal background checks on gun purchases, Murphy, D-Conn., told ABC’s This Week. that this is the case, other ideas are “not insignificant”.
The group will meet again next week with 10 days’ notice to reach an agreement.
“There are more Republicans this time who are interested in talking about finding a way forward than I’ve seen since Sandy Hook,” said Murphy, who was a congressman in the area at the time of the Sandy Hook shooting represented Newtown. “And while I may end up heartbroken, I now sit at the table with Republicans and Democrats in a more meaningful way than ever before.”
Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
https://abc13.com/joe-biden-in-uvalde-texas-school-shooting-robb-elementary/11908391/ Texas school shooting: Joe Biden visits Uvalde on Memorial Day weekend 2022 and promises action after Robb kills 21 Elementary Shooter