WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he’ll travel to Texas in hopes of bringing comfort after the massacre at a Uvalde elementary school, and vented impatience at Congress’ inaction to prevent such gun carnage.
“Where’s the backbone? Where’s the courage to stand up to a very powerful lobby?” he said. “The Second Amendment is not absolute. When it was passed, you couldn’t own a cannon…. There’s just always been limitations.”
On Tuesday morning, gunman Salvador Rolando Ramos killed 19 fourth graders and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.
It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas. Nationwide, only the 2012 rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults, cost more lives at a school.
The Uvalde killer brought two assault-style rifles and hundreds of rounds that he’d reportedly bought legally after turning 18. According to Gov. Greg Abbott, he’d revealed his intentions on social media.
“The idea that an 18-year-old can walk into a store and buy weapons of war designed and marketed to kill is I think just wrong. Just violates common sense,” Biden said at the White House during a ceremony to announce policing reforms.
“When in God’s name will we do what needs to be done? If not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country,” the president said. “I’m sick and tired. I’m just sick and tired of what’s going on and continues to go on.”
The White House has not said exactly when Biden plans to visit Texas. He is delivering commencement speeches Friday at the Naval Academy and Saturday at his alma mater, the University of Delaware. The president himself was vague on the timing.
“Jill and I will be traveling to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families, let them know we have a sense just a sense of their pain and hopefully bring some little comfort to the community in shock and grief and in trauma. As a nation I think we all must be there for them, everyone,’ he said.
Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee before serving as vice president, and he shepherded at ban on assault weapons that has since expired.
He readily conceded that not every measure to curb access to firearms would “prevent every tragedy.” But he said, “These actions we’ve taken before they save lives. They can do it again.”