Biden asks for prayers after gunman kills 19 children at elementary school

19 children were killed in the massacre in Uvalde, Texas.(Photo: CNN)

(CP) President Joe Biden quoted the Bible and asked for prayers for families who lost loved ones in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where at least 19 children and one teacher were gunned down Tuesday.

At a press conference Tuesday evening, Biden talked about the school shooting and the tragedy of a parent losing a child. He also blamed the gun lobby and gun manufacturers for school shootings.

"To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away," said Biden, who himself has lost two children, one to a car accident in 1972 and another to cancer in 2015.

"There's a hollowness in your chest; you feel like you are being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out. It's suffocating. And it's never quite the same."

Biden quoted Psalm 34:18, saying, "The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit," and asked people to pray for the victims' families.

The president then called for stricter gun laws in response to the mass shooting, asking, "When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?"

"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," he continued, citing his efforts to pass "commonsense gun laws" while in Congress.

"We can't and won't prevent every tragedy, but we know they work and have positive impact. When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled."

"What in God's name do you need an assault weapon for, except to kill someone?"

Biden then spoke about a recent meeting with national leaders from Asia and how their countries don't have as many mass shootings as the United States.

"These kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America," the president continued. "Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?"

"Where in God's name is our backbone ... the courage to stand up to the lobbies? It's time to turn this pain into action," he declared.

Biden then listed other mass shootings at schools, movie theaters and houses of worship, including the shooting at Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, but didn't name the shooting at the Taiwanese Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, two Sundays ago.

On Tuesday afternoon, an 18-year-old Uvalde High School student entered Robb Elementary School and opened fire, killing at least 19 children and one teacher before being shot and killed.

The shooter also allegedly shot his grandmother before entering the elementary school, according to a statement released by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday.

Abbott added that authorities are fully investigating the crime and that he and his wife "mourn this horrific loss" and called on people to show "unwavering support to all who are suffering."

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