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Biden to lawmakers: 'It's time to act' on gun control after Texas school shooting

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Biden to lawmakers: 'It's time to act' on gun control after Texas school shooting
President Joe Biden said "we have to act" to enact "common-sense" gun control legislation after a shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 18 students and at least one adult on Tuesday. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

May 24 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden called for gun control legislation following the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 19 students and two adults dead on Tuesday.

The shooting occurred earlier Tuesday afternoon in Uvalde, Texas, where authorities say an 18-year-old man walked into an elementary school and began firing. The gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, was among the dead.

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Biden, who was vice president in 2012 when a shooter killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, opened his remarks by stating that he had hoped he would not have to deliver comments on a school shooting as president.

"Another massacre, Uvalde, Texas, an elementary school," he said. "Beautiful, innocent, second, third- and fourth-graders. And how many scores of little children, who witness what happened, witness their friends die as if they're on a battlefield for God's sake. They'll live with that the rest of their lives."

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Biden went on to say that the United States must take a stand against the gun lobby and gun manufacturers, whom he blamed for marketing assault weapons in order to turn a profit.

"We have to act," he said. "And don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage. I spent my career as a senator and a vice president working to pass common-sense gun laws. We can't and won't prevent every tragedy but we know they work and have a positive impact."

Biden, who was returning from a trip to Asia, also reflected on why mass shootings are more prevalent in the United States than other nations.

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"They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings don't happen with the frequency they happen in America," he said.

The president added that it is time to "turn this pain into action" while saying it should be clear to "every elected official in this country it's time to act."

"It's time for those who obstruct or delay, or block the common-sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget," he said. "We can do so much more, we have to do more."

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Biden ordered flags be flown at half-staff at the White House and at all federal public grounds, buildings and vessels through Saturday.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks about the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies' gala in Washington on Tuesday. Photo by Shaw Thew/UPI

Earlier in the day, Vice President Kamala Harris said "our hearts keep getting broken" with each mass shooting in the country.

"Enough is enough. As a nation we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure nothing like this ever happens again," Harris said. "People of Uvalde, please know that this room is full of leaders who grieve with you and we are praying for you and we stand with you."

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a statement Tuesday night announcing that agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have responded to the scene and that the agency joins Americans "in mourning this terrible loss and in their resolve to end this senseless violence."

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"Today, another mass shooting has taken the lives of innocent victims, including elementary school children and their teacher," Garland said. "This act of unspeakable violence has devastated an entire community and shaken our country."

Former President Barack Obama shared a statement referring to Sandy Hook and the shooting at a Buffalo grocery store that left 10 people dead earlier this month.

"Michelle and I grieve with the families in Uvalde, who are experiencing pain no one should have to bear," he said. "We're also angry for them. Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook -- and 10 days after Buffalo -- our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies."

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