President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are hoping to comfort the grief-stricken city when they meet with families affected by a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers.
WALDE, Texas (AP) – President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden offered consolation Sunday in a grief-stricken city by honoring a memorial to 19 students and two teachers killed in a massacre at a Texas elementary school.
The visit to Uwalde was Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to comfort the mourning community after the staggering loss of the shooting. He traveled to Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet with the families of the victims and condemn white supremacy after a shooter who adhered to the racist “replacement theory” killed 10 black people in a supermarket.
Near elementary school, Rob Biden stopped at a memorial with 21 white crosses – one for each killed – and the first lady added a bouquet of white flowers to the pile in front of the school sign. They looked at the individual altars erected in memory of each disciple, and the first lady touched the photographs of the children as the couple moved in a row.
The shootings in Texas and New York and their aftermath highlighted the nation’s entrenched divisions and its inability to reach consensus on actions to reduce gun violence.
“Evil has come to this class of elementary school in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to too many places where innocents have died,” Biden said Saturday in a speech at the University of Delaware. “We need to stand stronger. We need to stand stronger. We can’t stop the tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer. “
After visiting the memorial, Biden arrived for Mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where some of the families of the victims are officiating. Near the church the teacher raised a sign with the inscription: “Mr. President, thank you for coming. I’m a teacher. ”
“Sir, the President understands well what is happening now, here, and we are very gracious for his visit,” Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Sieler told the faithful.
A crowd of about 100 people chanted “do anything” when Biden left the church to head for private meetings with family members at the community center. “We will,” he replied.
The president also met with airport responsibility officials before returning to Washington. No official remarks were expected from him.
McKinsey Inahosa, whose cousin Elijah Torres was killed on Tuesday, said she respected Biden’s decision to mourn along with the Uwalde people.
“It’s more than mourning,” she said. “We want change. We want action. It continues to be something that happens again and again and again. There is a mass shooting. It’s in the news. People are crying. Then he is gone. Nobody cares. And then it happens again. And again. “
“If there’s anything, if I could tell Joe Biden how to eat, just respect our community while he’s here and I’m sure he will,” she added. “But we need change. We need to do something about it. “
Biden visited it amid tighter controls on police response to the shooting. On Friday, officials found that students and faculty had repeatedly asked for help from 911 operators as the police commander told more than a dozen officers to wait in the corridor. Officials said the commander believed the suspect had barricaded himself in a nearby classroom and that there was no more active attack.
The revelation caused more sadness and raised new questions about whether lives had been killed because officers did not act more quickly to stop an armed man who was eventually killed by border guards.
The Justice Ministry announced on Sunday that it would review the reaction of law enforcement and release the results.
“It’s easy to point the finger now,” Ronnie Garza, Uwalde County Commissioner, told CBS’s Face the Nation before adding, “Our community needs to focus on healing right now.”
Authorities said the shooter legally purchased two guns shortly before the attack on the school: an AR-style rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had just turned 18, which allowed him to acquire a weapon under federal law.
Hours after the shooting, Biden made an urgent request for additional gun control legislation, asking, “When, for God’s sake, will we oppose the gun lobby? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we continue to allow this to happen? ”
Over the years, Biden has been closely linked to the most notable successes of the arms control movement, such as the 1994 Prohibition of Assault Weapons, which expired in 2004, and his most worrying frustrations, including the failure to pass new legislation after the massacre. Sandy in 2012. Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
As president, Biden tried to eliminate gun violence with orders. He now faces several new options, but the executive’s actions may be the best that the president can do, given Washington’s sharp disagreements over gun control legislation.
In Congress, a bipartisan group of senators held talks last weekend to see if they could achieve even modest gun security legislation after a decade of largely failed efforts.
Encouraging state red flag laws to keep guns in the hands of those with mental health problems, and addressing school safety and mental health resources, said Senator Chris Murphy, who is leading the effort.
Although Republicans in Congress have little support for broader gun security proposals popular with the public, including a new assault gun ban or a universal arms purchase check, Murphy, D-Conn., Told ABC. this week ”that these other ideas are“ not insignificant ”.
The group will meet again this week within 10 days to close the deal.
“This time there are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a way forward than I’ve ever seen since Sandy Hook,” said Murphy, who represented the Newtown area as a congressman during the Sandy Hook shooting. “And though, after all, I may have a broken heart, I’m now at the table with Republicans and Democrats much more than ever.”
AP Congress correspondent Lisa Mascara and Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington and AP video journalist Robert Bamsted of Uwalde, Texas, contributed to the report.
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