President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Tuesday evening, just hours after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas.
Biden, who had just returned from his Asia trip, was visibly emotional as he began his speech talking about the victims of the shooting. At least 18 children and three adults are dead, including the 18-year-old gunman. The death toll is reportedly expected to continue to rise, according to ABC News.
“Another massacre,” Biden said to start his brief remarks. “Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent, second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witness what happened, see their friends die, as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake.”
“They’ll live with it the rest of their lives. There’s a lot we don’t know yet. There’s a lot we do know. The parents who will never see their child again. Never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same,” Biden said, continuing on to describe the loss of a child as “having a piece of your soul ripped away.”
After asking the nation to pray for the families of the victims, the president quickly pivoted to a new message for the country – one aimed at taking down the “gun lobby.”
“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden asked. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
Biden named other mass shooting events in recent U.S. history and declared that he is “sick and tired of it.” The president admitted that every tragedy can’t be prevented, but argued that passing “common sense gun laws” has been proven to “have positive impact.”
“And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage,” Biden said.
“The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong,” he continued. “What in God’s name do you need assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on for God’s sake. It’s just sick.”
Biden has been a big proponent of gun control, honing in on “ghost guns” and calling for a ban on so-called “assault style” weapons, a catch all term gun control advocates use to refer to certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles. It remains unclear what kind of weapon the shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos, used in the attack – though Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott noted Ramos entered the school with a handgun and potentially a rifle, according to ABC News. (RELATED: Biden Goes All In On Calls For Extreme Gun Control)
Biden also wondered aloud why “these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world.” He noted that other countries have “mental health problems” and “domestic disputes” and reiterated his call for America “to stand up to the lobbyists.”
“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” Biden asked. “Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with, to stand up to the lobbyists? It’s time to turn this pain into 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.”