Biden to mourn with Texas city after latest school shooting in country

UVALDE, Texas, May 29 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden traveled to the Texas town of Uvalde on Sunday to comfort families torn apart by the worst US school shooting in a decade as the public demands answers about the reasons why the local police did not act quickly.

There was growing anger over the decision by local law enforcement in Uvalde to allow the shooter to remain in a classroom for nearly an hour while officers waited in the hallway and children walked away. inside the room were making panicked calls to 911 for help. Read more

Biden will meet with families of victims, survivors and first responders, attend a church service and visit a memorial erected at Robb Elementary School where the shooter killed 19 students and two teachers.

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“Too much violence, too much fear, too much heartbreak,” Biden told graduates during a commencement address Saturday at the University of Delaware. “We can’t ban tragedy, I know that, but we can make America safer. We can finally do what we need to do to protect people’s lives and our children’s lives.”

Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly called for major changes to US gun laws but has been powerless to stop the mass shootings or convince Republicans that tougher controls could stem the carnage.

The visit to Texas will be his third presidential trip to a mass shooting site, including earlier this month when he traveled to Buffalo, New York, after a gunman killed 10 black people during a an attack Saturday afternoon in a grocery store.

The Uvalde shooting has once again put gun control at the top of the national agenda, months before November’s midterm elections, supporters of tougher gun laws claiming that the latest bloodshed represents a tipping point.

“The president has a real opportunity. The country is desperate for a leader to stop the slaughter of gun violence,” said Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America.

Volsky urged Biden to hire a senior official to tackle the nation’s gun problem and press Congress to pass meaningful gun reform, saying Biden had promised to be a negotiator and to fight against armed violence.

‘WAR WEAPON’

Vice President Kamala Harris called for a ban on assault weapons during a trip to Buffalo on Saturday, saying that following two back-to-back mass shootings, these weapons are “a weapon of war” that ” has no place in a civil society”.

White House aides and close allies say Biden is unlikely to embark on specific policy proposals to avoid disrupting delicate gun control negotiations in the divided Senate.

He’s also unlikely to take executive action to crack down on guns, as it could send otherwise open Republican lawmakers back to their corners for negotiations.

Senate Democrats also reduced rhetoric as negotiations continued during the chamber’s Memorial Day recess this week.

“We have to be realistic about what we can accomplish,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin told CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday. Durbin’s fellow Democrats narrowly control the 50-50 split Senate, but need 60 votes to pass most legislation.

Leading Republicans like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former President Donald Trump have dismissed calls for new gun control measures and instead suggested investing in mental health care or bolstering safety in schools nationwide.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has denied that new Texas gun laws, including a controversial measure removing license requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, have “any relevance” to the bloodshed on Tuesday.

He suggested state lawmakers pay renewed attention to tackling mental illness.

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Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw aboard Air Force One; Gabriella and Brad Brooks in Uvalde, Texas; additional reporting by Heather Timmons in Washington; Written by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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