‘A piece of your soul ripped away’: Biden, nation react to shooting

U.S.

(NewsNation) —Lawmakers across the country are reacting angrily and emotionally on social media to the school shooting that left 19 children and two adults, as well as the shooter, dead Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Yet while lawmakers’ anger appears to be bipartisan, the rest of the messaging coming in the wake of the shooting appears to be splitting along party lines as Democrats assail Republicans for not passing stricter gun laws.

President Joe Biden addressed Americans in an emotional speech Tuesday, reacting to the Texas elementary school shooting. He ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in wake of the tragedy.

“I had hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this again. Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful second, third, fourth graders,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday night.

The president compared the feeling of losing a child to “having a piece of your soul ripped away,” a “suffocating” feeling.

“As a nation, we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said. “I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. Don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.”

“Where in God’s name is our backbone?” Biden asked, calling on the American people to “have the courage to deal with this and stand up to the (gun) lobbies.”

“The idea that an 18-year-old can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for, except to kill someone?”

There have been more than 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen elsewhere in the world. 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 it? It’s time to turn this pain into action,” Biden added.

This is not the first elementary school shooting to shake the U.S. to its core. In 2012 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 elementary school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The parents of children who were killed in that massacre know all too well what the families grieving lost loved ones in Uvalde are experiencing.

“I know exactly what those parents are going through, and you bring your child to school, with a book bag and they leave in a body bag,” said Scarlett Lewis, whose son was killed at Sandy Hook. “It’s just not the way it should be.”

The former principal of Columbine High School, where 12 kids were shot and killed by two gunmen in 1999, also knows all too well what those in Uvalde are going through.

“The week of Columbine, I said I just joined a club in which no one wants to be a member,” former principal Frank DeAngelis said. “They’re all of our kids and we need to come together.”

While politicians posture back and forth after the shooting, schools nationwide increase security on their campuses.

“We reached out to every district last night, we talked to our districts, we were like, ‘listen this is what I propose, just do it please, thank you,'” said Craig Apple, the sheriff in Albany County, New York.

In Polk County, Florida, students are no longer able to bring their book bags in to school.

“It’s kind of scary, but like with anything else, you’ve just got to believe that the school will keep your kids safe, and I do,” said parent James Ellison.

Elsewhere around the country, there were, of course, thoughts and prayers from politicians who sent their condolences to the families of victims.

But there was also outrage from other lawmakers who, like Biden, called on fellow lawmakers to do something.

One of the strongest reactions came from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who made an impassioned speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, begging for a solution.

“Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” said Murphy, a Democrat whose jurisdiction includes Newtown, Connecticut, which was rocked by the Sandy Hook shooting. “This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t ‘unlucky.’ This only happens in our country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas offered prayers and thanked law enforcement for their work on Twitter.

“Heidi & I are fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde,” Cruz said. “We are in close contact with local officials, but the precise details are still unfolding. Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., followed a playbook similar to that of Cruz, offering prayers and thanks to law enforcement.

“Horrified and heartbroken to learn of the significant loss of life in the shooting in Uvalde, Texas,” Blackburn said on Twitter. “Please join me in lifting their loved ones up in prayer. Thank you to the local first responders working on the scene.”

Tennessee’s Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen seemed to offer a complete opposite approach to Blackburn and Cruz’s comments.

“Thoughts and prayers don’t work,” Cohen said on Twitter. “Republicans need to stop genuflecting to NRA and help pass some gun laws, mental health, and red flag laws (Buffalo). People need guns to kill! Wake up and let’s pass some laws to bolster safety.”

FILE- In this Dec. 14, 2012 file photo, parents leave a staging area after being reunited with their children following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. At least 14 children and a teacher were killed in a shooting at a Texas elementary school Tuesday, May 24, 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

California lawmakers also joined in on calling out Republican not passing stricter gun laws.

“I wish I could look at my three small kids and promise I’ll always protect them,” Congressman Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said on Twitter. “That’d be a lie. America arms the most dangerous people to the teeth, leaving every child vulnerable to being shot in their class. This is not a policy defect. It is by GOP design.”

“Another day, another mass shooting, and more silence from the gun lobby and Republicans who refuse to allow any gun safety reforms to occur. Uvalde, Texas, is the latest on the heartbreaking list of mass shootings. Reports that 14 elementary school students and a teacher have been murdered are beyond tragic. I’m just speechless at the evil that is running rampant, and behind all of these acts is a firearm,” said U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.

In Illinois, Democrats and Republicans echoed the same sentiments.

“Today’s news is heartbreaking and tragic,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, on Twitter. “Fourteen young lives and a teacher gone far too soon. My heart is with the families and friends of these lives lost. I implore — beg — my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in finally making changes to our gun laws to help prevent Americans from reliving this gun tragedy far too often. We cannot continue to sit on our hands and allow innocent lives to be lost. Congress must act.”

Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois said on Twitter “This is pure evil and heartbreaking — 14 children and 1 teacher were murdered in an act of senseless violence. Please pray for the victims, their families, and the Uvalde, Texas community.”

Police walk near Robb Elementary School following a shooting Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

In Texas, the candidates for governor offered condolences.

Gov. Greg Abbott urged Texans to come together and thanked first responders.

“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde. Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss and we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering. We thank the courageous first responders who worked to finally secure Robb Elementary School. I have instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to fully investigate this crime. The Texas Division of Emergency Management is charged with providing local officials all resources necessary to respond to this tragedy as the State of Texas works to ensure the community has what it needs to heal.”

His opponent in the 2022 midterms, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said, “Our broken hearts are with Uvalde.”

O’Rourke later wrote on Twitter that Abbott allowed this to happen, “Again. And again and again.”

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