“As a nation we have to ask, ‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
Biden didn’t specifically outline steps that the White House plans to take, but signaled a focus on assault weapons.
He said that “if an 18-year-old can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons, it’s just wrong. What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren’t running through the forests with kevlar vests on, for God’s sake. It’s just sick.”
Authorities say that 18 children and one adult were killed when the gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Ulvalde, TX.
Biden spoke from the Roosevelt Room at the White House, in a speech carried across broadcast and cable networks.
“Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone? To the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbyists,” Biden said. “It’s time to turn this pain into action.”
When he was vice president, Biden led a task force on gun violence following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, CT, in which 20 students and six adults were shot and killed. But gun reform measures stalled in the Senate. Since then, Biden said on Tuesday, there have been 900 incidents of gun fire reported on school grounds.
“I am sick and tired of it,” Biden said. “We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.”
Biden said that when an assault weapons ban was passed in the 1990s, mass shootings went down, but when the law expired, they tripled.
“The gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit,” he said. “For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”
Biden noted that most Americans support “common sense gun laws,” which have included closing background check loopholes.
“It’s time for those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget,” he said. “We can do so much more. We have to do more.”
Biden started his speech with words of condolence and consolation. “There’s a lot we don’t know yet. There’s a lot we do know. There’s a lot of parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them, The parents will never be the same. To lose a child, it’s like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you are being sucked into it and are never going to be able to get out. Suffocating. It is never quite the same.”