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Biden to meet with grieving families after Texas shooting

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President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel Sunday to Uvalde, Texas, to grieve with the families of the 21 victims of last week’s massacre at an elementary school, huddle with first responders and attend Mass at a Catholic church in the community.

His visit to the scene of last Tuesday’s mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers comes less than two weeks from when Biden and the first lady traveled to Buffalo where an 18-year-old shooter steeped in racist ideology slaughtered 10 black people at a supermarket.

The president spoke about the mass killings at Robb Elementary school and Tops Friendly Markets in his address to students Saturday at the University of Delaware.

“Let’s be clear, evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas and that grocery store in New York,” Biden said. “We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”

As he spoke in Delaware, Vice President Kamala Harris was in Buffalo to attend the funeral for Ruth Whitfield, 86, one of the 10 slain at the grocery store on May 14. 

Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School.
“We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer,” President Biden said.
Jae C. Hong/AP

In a brief speech at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, the vice president said “enough is enough” as she recounted other recent mass killings across the nation.

“There’s a through line to what happened here in Buffalo, in Texas, in Atlanta, in Orlando, what happened at the synagogues and so this is a moment that requires all good people, all God-loving people, to stand up and say ‘we will not stand for this,’” Harris said. 

Later, talking to reporters, the vice president said assault weapons should be banned.

“You know what an assault weapon is? You know how an assault weapon was designed?” Harris said. “It was designed for a specific purpose – to kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war with no place, no place in a civil society.”

The killers in Buffalo and Uvalde were both 18 and both used AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles to carry out their carnage. 

The Bidens will arrive on Air Force One in San Antonio around 11 a.m. EST and take Marine One to Uvalde. 

They will pay their respects to the shooting victims during a visit to a memorial at Robb Elementary before attending Mass at Sacred Heart Cathlolic Church.

Robb Elementary School.
The Bidens will pay their respects during a visit to a memorial at Robb Elementary before attending Mass.
Jae C. Hong/AP

The Bidens will also meet separately with the families of the victims and the first responders.

Both meetings are expected to happen behind closed doors. 

The visit to Uvalde comes amid outrage after police waited for more than an hour before confronting shooter Salvador Ramos and raised questions over whether a faster response would have saved the lives of some of the students.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden.
The Bidens will also meet with first responders.
Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

The visit to Uvalde comes amid outrage after police waited for more than an hour to confront shooter Salvador Ramos and raised questions over whether a faster response would have saved the lives of some of the students.

As officers waited in the school’s hallway multiple students inside the locked classroom called 911 pleading for help.

The tragedy at Uvalde has also rekindled the debate over gun control measures and whether assault weapons like those used by Ramos and Payton Gendron in Buffalo should be banned as they were between 1994 and 2004. 

Senators are expected to vote next month on two bills already passed by the House that would expand background checks for would-be gun buyers as lawmakers try to hammer out a compromise. 

Biden, speaking at the White House on the evening of the Texas shooting, called for new gun laws.

“We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy, but we know [gun laws] work and have a positive impact. When we passed the Assault Weapons Ban [in 1994], mass shootings went down. When the law expired [in 2004], mass shootings tripled,” Biden said.

“The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons, it’s just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on for God’s sake,” he said.

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