'We have to act': Joe Biden renews calls for gun control after US primary school shooting

The US president has given an emotional address from the White House after at least 21 people were killed, including 18 children, in a mass shooting at a primary school in Texas.

US President Joe Biden speaks from behind a podium as first lady Jill Biden listens

US President Joe Biden speaks to the nation about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, from the White House, in Washington, 24 May 2022, as first lady Jill Biden listens. Source: AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for Americans to stand up against the country's powerful pro-gun lobby after a teenage shooter killed 18 young children and three adults at a primary school in Texas.

"I had hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this, again," a distraught President Joe Biden said at the White House as he led national mourning, vowing to find a way to tighten gun ownership laws.

"Another massacre... an elementary school. Beautiful, innocent, second, third, fourth graders," he said. "I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage."

"It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act."
A shooter opened fire late on Tuesday morning at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde, Texas, about 128km west of San Antonio, officials said, in the latest incident of mass gun violence sweeping the US.

Texas governor Greg Abbott said the suspect, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was apparently killed by police officers responding to the scene, and that two officers were struck by gunfire, though the governor said their injuries were not serious.

Authorities said the suspect acted alone.

Mr Abbott told a news conference hours after the shooting that 14 schoolchildren had been slain, along with one teacher. But Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez later told CNN, citing the Texas Rangers state police as his source, that the death toll had climbed to 18 children and three adults.

The shooting unfolded just 10 days after 10 people were killed in Buffalo, New York, in a predominantly Black neighbourhood. An 18-year-old man whom authorities said opened fire with an assault-style rifle has been charged.
People walk near a small brick wall carrying the words: 'Welcome Robb Elementary School Bienvenidos
Law enforcement officers at Robb Elementary School following the mass shooting. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images
The motive for Tuesday's massacre in Texas, the latest in a string of seemingly random mass shootings that have become commonplace in the United States, was not immediately known.

Mr Abbott said the suspect was believed to have abandoned his vehicle and entered the school armed with a handgun, and possibly a rifle, before opening fire.

Investigators believe Ramos shot and killed his grandmother before going to the school, CBS News reported, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.

"It is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school," Mr Abbott told reporters. "I have no further information about the connection between those two shootings."

University Hospital in San Antonio said on Twitter it had received two patients from the shooting in Uvalde, a 66-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl, both listed in critical condition.

It was the deadliest such incident since 14 high school students and three adult staff were killed in Parkland, Florida in 2018 - and the worst at an elementary school since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, in which 20 children and six staff were killed.
Mr Biden ordered US flags be flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings "as a mark of respect for the victims".

Flags will be flown at half-staff until sunset on 28 May, he said in a statement.

Mr Biden offered Mr Abbott any and all assistance needed in the wake of the "horrific shooting".

The school - which teaches more than 500, mostly Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students from second through fourth grade - called on parents not to pick up their children until all were accounted for.

"Please do not pick up students at this time. Students need to be accounted for before they are released to your care. You will be notified to pick up students once all are accounted for," the school said on its website.
Ted Cruz, a US senator from Texas, tweeted that he and his wife are "lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde".

"Thank you to heroic law enforcement & first responders for acting so swiftly," Senator Cruz added.

The deadly violence in Texas follows a series of mass shootings in the US this month.

On 14 May, an 18-year-old white man shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York grocery store.

Wearing heavy body armour and wielding an AR-15 rifle, the self-declared white supremacist allegedly live-streamed his attack, having reportedly targeted the store because of the large surrounding African American population.
A law enforcement officer speaks with people
A law enforcement officer speaks with people outside Uvalde High School after a shooting was reported earlier in the day at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on 24 May 2022. Credit: William Luther/AP
The following day, a man blocked the door of a church in Laguna Woods, California and opened fire on its Taiwanese-American congregation, killing one person and injuring five.

Despite recurring mass-casualty shootings, multiple initiatives to reform gun regulations have failed in the US Congress, leaving states and local councils to enact their own restrictions.

The US suffered 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 per cent compared to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest data.

5 min read
Published 25 May 2022 at 7:17am, updated 25 May 2022 at 11:53am
Source: AFP, Reuters, SBS