President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that he and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Uvalde, Texas, to meet with the families of the 19 children and two teachers killed during the second-worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history.
“Jill and I will be traveling to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families and let them know we have a sense of their pain, and hopefully bring some little comfort to a community in shock, in grief, and in trauma,” Biden said at the White House during a live bill signing ceremony that sets broad new policing standards for federal law enforcement agencies.
“As a nation, I think we all must be there for them—everyone,” he added. “And we must ask: When in God’s name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country?”
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman identified as Salvador Ramos by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio and began shooting. He was slain by responding law enforcement officials, according to the governor’s office.
During Wednesday’s unrelated bill signing event, Biden stressed that he believes it is “just wrong” for an 18-year-old to be able to buy “weapons of war,” likely referring to AR-15-style rifles the suspect reportedly used in the shooting.
Ramos had posted several pictures of guns on Instagram just days before the shooting, including one that appears to be a Daniel Defense AR-15-style rifle. Another image showed an individual holding a magazine.
Pushing for gun reform, Biden said they will not “prevent every tragedy,” but would still “have a significant impact, and have no negative impact on the Second Amendment.”
“I am sick and tired of what’s going on and continues to go on,” Biden said. “I spent my career … working on common-sense gun reforms.”
“The Second Amendment is not absolute,” he added. “When it was passed you couldn’t own a cannon. You couldn’t own certain kinds of weapons. There’s just always been limitations.”
Biden’s claim that private citizens were not allowed to own cannons in the 1700s was rated “false” by PolitiFact and numerous other agencies when the president made it on previous occasions.
The shooting in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting in almost a decade and came days after an 18-year-old killed 10 people at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. Biden and his wife visited the Empire State site on May 17 to meet with mourning families, the White House said in a statement.
In 2012, 26 children and adults were killed by a 20-year-old at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in what is reported as the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history.
In his national address, Biden recalled the Sandy Hook massacre, which happened under the Obama administration when he was vice president.
“I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this again,” he said. “How many scores of little children who witnessed 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.”