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Biden calls Buffalo shooting 'terrorism,' says 'white supremacy is a poison'

The president and first lady Jill Biden paid their respects at a memorial set up at the Tops market where a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others last weekend.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden traveled to Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday where he met with the families of victims from Saturday's shooting rampage and addressed the racism and hate that officials say motivated the gunman.

"What happened here is simple, straightforward terrorism," Biden said. "Terrorism, domestic terrorism, violence inflicted in the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group."

"In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word," Biden said while at a local community center there.

Biden, who was joined by first lady Jill Biden, visited a memorial at the Tops supermarket honoring those who died in the shooting, laying a bouquet of flowers at the site. The gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others.

The president and first lady met with victims' families as well as law enforcement, first responders and community leaders, as he again found himself consoling people who lost loved ones in a mass shooting.

"You have to refuse to live in a country where Black people going about a weekly grocery shopping can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause," Biden said. "We have to refuse to live in a country where fear and lies are packaged for power, and for profit."

During his remarks, he read the names and descriptions of those who were killed, and what had brought them to the store that day.

Biden called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, something he has pushed for since well before he was president, but lacks the votes in the Senate to pass.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the victims of Saturday's shooting at a memorial across the street from the TOPS Market in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 17, 2022.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the victims of Saturday's shooting at a memorial across the street from the TopsMarket in Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday.Andrew Harnik / AP

"This venom, this violence cannot be the story of our time. We cannot allow that to happen," Biden said. "Look, I’m not naive, I know tragedy will come again. It cannot be forever overcome, it cannot be fully understood either, but there are certain things we can do."

Biden has dealt with numerous mass shootings since he became president, an issue that has prompted him to take executive actions and urge the Department of Justice to do more to crack down on illegal guns.

House Democrats plan to vote this week on a bill that seeks to combat white supremacists and other domestic extremist groups, although Democratic efforts to advance gun control measures have been blocked by Republicans in the evenly divided Senate.

Some Republicans have come under fire for allegedly espousing the far-right conspiracy theory that investigators say the gunman in Buffalo wrote about in a lengthy "manifesto" and drove him to target and kill Black people. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., accused House GOP leadership Monday of "enabling" white supremacy and antisemitism.

“I call on all Americans to reject the lie, and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit," Biden said.