President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday evening in the wake of a devastating shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex. 18 children were killed along with two adults. Suspect Salvador Ramos, 18, is believed to have been killed by officers responding to Robb Elementary School. Ramos also shot and killed his grandmother prior to going on the rampage.
"I hoped when I became President I would not have to do this again," Biden began. "Another massacre, Uvalde, Texas." He spoke about the tragedy that befell the children, teachers and families in the small community, and expressed his own grief.
"To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away," he said. Biden has lost two of his own children. And he quoted scripture as a means to try to make sense of the horrific events of the afternoon. He asked the nation to pray for those families "in the darkness they feel right now."
But Biden quickly pivoted to attacking the "gun lobby." "As a nation we have to ask when in God's name we're gonna stand up to the gun lobby. When in God's name, when we all know in our gut what needs to be done."
"We have to act," he said, after listing off many other school shootings he's witnessed during his political career, as well as the tragic grocery store shooting in Buffalo, NY. He demanded "common sense gun laws," and said that the assault weapons ban he had enacted reduced gun violence.
He condemned gun shops for selling assault weapons to 18-year-olds. The shooter in Uvalde had a hand gun and a rifle. "What in God's name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?"
"It's just sick. The gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively market assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit. For God's sake we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.
"Here's what else I know. Most Americans support common sense laws, common sense gun laws," he said, comparing the US unfavorably to Asian nations that do not have these kinds of mass shootings.
"What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world," he said. "Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost these kinds of nationals never happened. The kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?
"Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God's name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with and stand up to the lobbies," he asked.
"It's time to turn this pain to action for every parent for every citizen of this country. We have to make it 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. We can do so much more. We have to do more.
"Our prayer tonight, to those parents lying in bed trying to figure out 'will I be able to sleep again? 'What do I say to my other children? What happens tomorrow?'
May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day. May the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit. They're going to need a lot of help a lot of our prayers God love you," he concluded.
Biden declined to take questions.
In the brief hours after the shooting, politicians and pundits all tried to assess the shooting, the shooter, and the motivations and circumstances that enabled and facilitated the tragedy in line with narratives of gun control, mental health, immigration, and other issues. Biden quickly became part of that initiative.