Biden to travel to Texas to comfort families of Uvalde school shooting victims

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will travel to Uvalde, Texas on Sunday to meet with the families of the victims of a mass elementary school shooting.

The White House announced Thursday that the president and first lady would visit Texas over the weekend to "grieve with the community that lost twenty-one lives in the horrific elementary school shooting."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Bidens would also meet with community and religious leaders while they are in Texas.

"The president and the first lady believe it is important to show their support for the community during this devastating time and to be there for the families of the victims," Jean-Pierre said.

No other details were immediately available on Biden's trip, which will take place over the Memorial Day weekend.

An enraged Biden described the families' loss as "suffocating" in the the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

"As a nation, I think we all must be there for them. Everyone," Biden said on Wednesday.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed on Tuesday when a gunman barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde, about 90 minutes west of San Antonio.

The massacre was the deadliest school shooting in a decade and came just 10 days after a white gunman fascinated by racist ideology opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. Ten Black people were killed in that tragedy.

Jean-Pierre said that as a parent herself, the massacre was "unfathomable."

She echoed the president's calls for stricter firearm regulations, declaring, "Schools should be sanctuaries of learning, not battlefields.

"We cannot become numb to this. We will not accept this," Jean-Pierre said.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Timeline: How Texas elementary school shooting, deadliest since Sandy Hook, unfolded

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of a shooting at a supermarket to pay respects and speak to families of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit the scene of a shooting at a supermarket to pay respects and speak to families of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

In remarks at the White House earlier this week, Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden hope to bring some comfort to the community "and let them know we have a sense, just a sense, of their pain."

Biden, who lost his first wife, Neilia, and baby daughter, Naomi, in a car accident in 1972 and his adult son Beau, to brain cancer in 2015, invoked his own experience with loss, saying “to lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away."

“There’s a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it," he said.

Biden called on lawmakers to “stand up to the gun lobby" and called for again for "common-sense" gun control measures.

Jean-Pierre said Thursday the White House has been consulting with Democratic leaders in Congress on possible gun reforms.

"He wants action. He wants Congress to take action. He wants to turn this pain into action," she said. And I hope the Senate, and particularly those who have been unwilling to act in the face of previous tragedies, will act now."

Although she said the White House would look at additional executive actions it could take, Jean-Pierre said, "We have done our part."

"Right now we need the help of Congress. We need them to step in," she said.

Michael Collins and Rebecca Morin cover the White House. Reach Collins on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS and Morin @RebeccaMorin_.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to travel to Texas to comfort families of Uvalde school shooting