Biden vows gun control action in letter to families of Uvalde school shooting victims

Marking two years since the shooting, the president said there were "no words" to ease the pain and called on Congress to address gun reform.
Joe Biden, Jill Biden
Posted at 9:01 AM, May 24, 2024

Two years after the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in what became the deadliest school shooting event in state history, President Joe Biden sent a letter to their families commemorating the anniversary and again pushing Congress to tighten gun laws.

“In the last two years, the people of Uvalde have turned their pain into purpose to demand progress for our nation,” President Biden wrote. “I know we have a long road ahead of us, but the courage, strength, and resilience you have shown in the face of such profound loss remind us that we can come together as a country and take commonsense actions to save lives and keep our communities safe.”

Robert Wilcox, White House deputy director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, will deliver President Biden’s message during a vigil with members of the Uvalde community on Friday, according to a White House official. Earlier in the week, Wilcox’s office convened 80 leaders representing 50 cities across the U.S. to discuss shared challenges combating gun violence and identify areas of collaboration.

Combination photo shows Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden.

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While the president hailed his administration’s advancements in addressing gun violence, he also reflected on the immense pain the families continue to endure.

“While there are no words that will ease the pain you continue to feel, I pray you find comfort in reflecting on their memories and all that they meant," he wrote.

The 2022 attack helped compel Congress to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which closed some loopholes for gun sellers and expanded background checks. In the letter, President Biden touted the measure as the “most significant gun safety law in almost 30 years” and highlighted other measures his administration has taken to combat gun violence, but again argued more action was needed.

“I am continuing to call on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” President Biden wrote. Republicans in Congress have thus far rebuffed any such efforts.

The letter comes days after the families of 19 victims announced they reached a $2 million settlement with the city of Uvalde over leaders’ poor response to the attack, with city officials promising higher standards and better training for local police.

But the families simultaneously filed a new $500 million federal lawsuit against 92 officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, school district officials and other local employees over their slow response to the shooting. A scathing U.S. Department of Justice report in January highlighted “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy, and training” as some reasons for the botched response and said lives would have been saved if police had followed generally accepted practices.