Saturday, June 03, 2023|
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WASHINGTON — As families and loved ones mourn the unimaginable loss of 19 children and two teachers shot dead last year in Uvalde, Texas, President Joe Biden said from a solemn White House memorial that too many schools, too many everyday places have become “killing fields.”
The town planned a private ceremony and candlelight vigil in the evening, and the Texas legislature paused for a few moments of silence at 11:30 a.m. CDT, the moment the shooter entered Robb Elementary School last year, touching off the nation’s deadliest school shooting in a decade.
Biden delivered remarks in front of a display with 21 candles, one for each victim, with a white rose and satin ribbons in school colors that displayed each victim’s name and age. All the students killed were between the ages of 9 and 11 years old. Before the president spoke, he and first lady Jill Biden, who is a teacher, stopped to look at the names of the dead.
“I realize this is a really tough day for all the families,” Biden said quietly. “Remembering is important, but it’s also painful.”
Biden spoke of how he stood in Uvalde a few days later, staring at 21 crosses outside the school with the names of victims. He said they spent hours with the grieving families.
“We know one year later, this is still so raw for you,” he said. “You’ll miss birthdays and holidays, school plays, soccer games. Just that smile. A year of everyday joy, just gone forever.”
The killings, along with another mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, prompted bipartisan legislation that passed through a divided Congress just a month later. It was the most significant gun safety law in decades.
The law toughened background checks for the youngest gun buyers, and sought to keep firearms from domestic violence offenders and to help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons away from people adjudged to be dangerous.
“Too many schools, too many everyday places have become killing fields in communities across America. And in each place, we hear the same message: Do something. For God’s sake, just do something,” Biden said. “We did something afterwards, but not nearly enough.”
Those laws haven’t stopped mass shootings or gun deaths of children. And Uvalde is still managing the fallout from the botched emergency response to the shooting.