© Reuters. US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Bead speak with Uvald Independent Unified School District (CISD) Director Hal Harrell and Mandy Gutierrez, Principal of Robb Elementary School, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers
Written by Steve Holland and Brad Brooks
WASHINGTON/OVALDE, Texas (Reuters) – A day after US President Joe Biden promised residents of Ovaldi, Texas, action on gun violence, on Monday he tried to appeal to “rational” Republicans to rein in high-caliber guns and other steps to prevent more mass shootings .
“Things got so bad that everyone just got a little bit more sane,” Biden, a Democrat, told reporters as he returned from his weekend trip to memorialize the killing of 19 children and two teachers in the nation’s worst mass school shooting in a decade. .
“The idea of these high-level weapons — there’s absolutely no rationale for them in terms of self-defense and hunting,” Biden said.
Hundreds of lives have been killed in dozens of mass shootings in the United States in recent years, and similar rounds of talks in Washington about how to limit them have resulted in no action by Congress. The two parties remain deeply divided, with Biden’s Democrats open to new restrictions on gun sales while Republicans keen to support a far-reaching vision of gun rights.
Questions still remain nearly a week after he shot and killed his 18-year-old grandmother before walking to Robb Elementary School in South Texas armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, killing 21 and wounding at least 17 others.
Local police waited for about an hour, though the kids kept calling 911 for help, before a US Border Patrol tactical team rushes in and kills the gunman.
The US Department of Justice said on Sunday that it will review law enforcement’s response at the request of Mayor Ovaldi. Some Texas Democrats also want a separate FBI investigation.
Residents of the stricken city urged Biden to “do something” as he visited on Sunday and attended a memorial service at the school before meeting with families and first responders.
“We will,” Biden said.
But little has changed since 1999, when two gunmen killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado. Since then, mass school shootings have rocked Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, among others.
FBI data showed that last year the United States faced 61 “active shootings” in schools and elsewhere. Earlier this month, ten people were killed in a convenience store in Buffalo, New York.
Biden has supported several measures, including a renewal of the assault weapons ban imposed in the 1990s and a global background check. But the president, who is narrowly controlled by Democrats in Congress, pointed to limited executive powers and urged lawmakers to act.
Democrats need the support of 10 Republican senators to pass legislation.
Talks led by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas are scheduled to resume this week. But Congress is on pause until June 6, raising the risk of waning momentum in these latest talks.
Some states, including states like Florida and Connecticut, which have faced mass shootings, have attempted to address some gun law changes separately.