WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday and meet with families of victims of the mass shooting at an elementary school this week, the White House announced Thursday.
The president intends to speak with community and religious leaders, in addition to victims' families, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
"The president and 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 at Thursday's White House briefing.
The shooting at Robb Elementary School left 19 students and two teachers dead just 10 days after a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The president and the first lady traveled to Buffalo on May 17 to visit the scene of that shooting and meet with the families of the victims.
For the first time since those shootings, Biden late Thursday afternoon called on lawmakers to pass specific legislation. But he went further than what's being discussed on Capitol Hill.
"Congress needs to pass universal background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines," Biden tweeted, saying it's time to "turn this pain into action."
A bipartisan group of senators kicked off informal talks on possible compromise legislation. One of the Democrats leading the talks, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, described a potential package that would be much smaller in scale than what the president urged.
“It won’t be everything I want. It won’t be universal background checks. It likely won’t be a ban on assault weapons. But, you know, maybe it’s an expansion of background checks. Maybe it’s red flag laws. Maybe it’s adjusting the age that you can purchase weapons,” Murphy said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
Asked at the White House briefing whether Biden would support raising the age to buy guns to 21, Jean-Pierre said Biden has been “very clear” that it “doesn’t make sense for an 18-year-old” like the Uvalde gunman “to legally buy an assault weapon.”