Biden arrives in Uvalde to meet families of victims of devastating school shooting

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrived mid-morning Sunday in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers last week. The White House said it would meet with community and religious leaders as well as family members of the young victims.

The Bidens will visit the makeshift memorial site outside Robb Elementary School and attend mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church before spending the afternoon meeting with families. They will also meet with first responders before returning home to Delaware.

“I will be traveling to Uvalde, Texas to speak to these families. As I speak, these parents are literally preparing to bury their children, in the United States of America, to bury their children. There are too many too much violence, too much fear, too much grief,” Biden told graduates Saturday at the University of Delaware commencement ceremony.

For Biden, the trip represents a grim duty to join grieving families in their darkest times. He often draws on his own experience of losing two children – a young girl to a car accident and her adult son to brain cancer – to console his fellow parents.

“Losing a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped out. There’s an emptiness in your chest, and it feels like you’re being sucked in and you can never get out. It’s suffocating . And it’s never quite the same,” Biden said the night of the shooting, speaking from the Roosevelt Room shortly after returning from a two-country visit to Asia.

The Bidens’ visit to Texas comes 12 days after the couple traveled to Buffalo, New York, to visit the site of a racist massacre at a grocery store. This shooting killed 10 people. Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the city on Saturday to attend the funeral of Ruth Whitfield, 86, the oldest victim of the attack.

“This is a moment that compels all good people who love people to just say we won’t put up with this. Enough is enough,” Harris said before laying a bouquet on a memorial outside the Tops Friendly Markets store where the shooting took place on May 14. As he left, Harris called for a ban on assault weapons like those used to kill in Uvalde and Buffalo.

The President’s and Vice President’s dual visits to communities affected by the mass murders were a stark reminder of the scourge of gun violence that plagues the nation. Biden, who has spent much of his career enacting tougher gun laws, called for action again this week.

But he stopped short of demanding that Congress pass a specific bill; the White House says it is up to Senate Democratic leaders to determine how to proceed on potential legislation. And he hasn’t named a gun violence task force beyond officials already in the administration.

Biden and his aides also admit there is little more he can accomplish through executive action that could prevent the kinds of massacres now occurring with horrific frequency.

On Sunday, Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he sensed a “different feeling” among his congressional colleagues regarding the possibility of passing gun control measures in the wake of the shooting of Uvalde. But the Illinois Democrat suggested to CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Dana Bash that if anything went through, its reach would be limited due to the need to compromise with Republicans.

In Texas, Biden will also face heartbreaking accounts of the shooting that state law enforcement officials say amounted to police misconduct. The decision by responding officers not to enter the classroom where the shooting occurred – despite calls to 911 from students pleading for help – leaves open the question of whether lives could have been lost. saved.

The White House said it would not prejudge an investigation into police actions. But the timeline revelations, made Friday at a heartbreaking press conference in Uvalde, only add to the sense of angst Biden will face during his visit.

This story and title have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Jasmine Wright contributed to this report.

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