President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden faced yet another grieving community affected by a mass shooting—this time at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The Sunday visit to Uvalde, Texas was Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to offer solace to a devastated community impacted by the nation’s seemingly relentless trend of gun violence. On May 17, he was in Buffalo, New York, to meet with victims’ families after an 18-year-old shooter went on a murderous spree inspired by white supremacist propaganda that killed 10 Black people at a supermarket. The last funeral from that shooting was on Saturday, with Vice President Kamala Harris and the First Gentlemen in attendance.
Before attending Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Bidens visited the memorial outside Robb Elementary School, consisting of 21 white crosses for each shooting victim. The first lady, a school teacher, placed white flowers in front of the school sign and gently touched photos of every student and teacher killed as they walked passed the individual alters.
Following the church service and as the Bidens were walking out of the venue, someone in the crowd yelled, “Do something!”
“We will,” said Biden.
Mckinzie Hinojosa, whose cousin Eliahana Torres was killed Tuesday, said she respected Biden’s decision to mourn with the people of Uvalde.
“It’s more than mourning,” she told the Associated Press. “We want change. We want action. It continues to be something that happens over and over and over. A mass shooting happens. It’s on the news. People cry. Then it’s gone. Nobody cares. And then it happens again. And again.”
Texas officials on Friday announced 911 calls from that day revealed that students and teachers pleaded for help while a dozen officers were told by a police commander to wait in the hallway. Contrary to the harrowing descriptions from the victims, local law enforcement believed the suspect was barricaded into a classroom and no longer an active shooter.
The 18-year-old gunman was eventually killed by Borden Patrol tactical officers, more than an hour after the first calls for help.
The Justice Department announced on Sunday that it will review the law enforcement response and make its findings public.
The news of an investigation only compounds the grief and anger that the “wrong decision,” as Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw described the police errors, resulted in preventable deaths.
While it’s been nearly a decade since the Sandy Hook school massacre in which 26 people were killed, there remains meager support from Republicans in Congress for new assault weapons bans or universal background checks. However, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut told CBS that he’s seeing more Republicans “come to the table” over legislation on gun safety than at any time since the nation’s worst school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
With less than two months until summer recess for Congress, there are plans to get a bipartisan bill to the floor about gun reform in the next two weeks.
Will it manifest into actionable change? Unclear but for Murphy, it’s a glimmer of hope. “And while, in the end, I may end up being heartbroken, I am at the table in a more significant way right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before.”