The president gave his speech shortly after his return from Asia, where the president visited several countries. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this again if I became president,” he began, visibly emotional. Biden called the shooting “another massacre” in the United States.
According to staffers, CNN reported, Biden wrote his speech on the Air Force One plane with the 2012 shooting of Sandy Hook in mind. Biden was vice president when a gunman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut.
The Uvalde shooting is the deadliest at an elementary school since Sandy Hook’s.
The shooting happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of the city of San Antonio. The 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, allegedly entered the school with a handgun and possibly another weapon. After his act, he was shot dead by the police.
‘Piece of your soul’
“Losing a child is like ripping a piece from your soul,” Biden said, reflecting on the young victims. “Think also of the many young children who saw what happened. They saw their friends die as if they were on a battlefield.”
“It’s time to turn pain into action,” said Biden, who used his speech to call for tougher gun laws. “I’m sick and tired of this,” the president said. “We have to do something. And don’t tell me we can’t control this kind of massacre. Why do we let this happen all the time?”
Tightening up gun legislation
Biden addressed the powerful gun lobby in his country. “As a country we have to ask ourselves: when the hell are we going to act against that?”
Whether Biden’s words will actually lead to action remains to be seen. The president has repeatedly called for tightening gun laws, but his efforts have been fruitless. “That plea will now resurface,” says correspondent Erik Mouthaan, “but it makes no impression here.”
Biden, for example, wants a ban on semi-automatic weapons, but there is no majority in parliament for this. After ‘Sandy Hook’ such a proposal has already been rejected by Republicans.
“Since then, a number of states have tightened up their own gun legislation,” says Mouthaan. “But that didn’t happen in Texas, where it has become easier to carry weapons with you.”
The Republicans, says Mouthaan, see more in a different approach. “They want to prevent a tragedy like this by offering mental help to young people who are in trouble. They also want to be able to detect people who are radicalising more quickly.”