WASHINGTON —President Joe Biden on Tuesday called once again for Congress to take action on gun control legislation, urging lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby, after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.
"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," Biden said.
"As a nation we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?"
His evening remarks after he returned to the White House from a trip to Asia following a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Biden, who was briefed on the shooting aboard Air Force One, said he contemplated during the flight how mass shootings don't occur in other countries with stricter gun control laws.
It has been exactly one week since Biden addressed another mass shooting, when he traveled to Buffalo, New York, to meet with the families of 10 people who were killed at a grocery store in a racially motivated attack.
Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday her heart was broken over the Texas shooting.
“Enough is enough. As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again,” Harris said at an event for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.
Biden has previously called on Congress to act on gun control legislation that would require universal background checks and ban so-called assault weapons, but such measures lack enough support to pass.
Tempers flared Tuesday on Capitol Hill, with lawmakers sparring over how to respond.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in response to a question from NBC News, immediately dismissed the prospect of new efforts to pursue gun control measures.
“That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime,” said Cruz, who instead said it would be better to go “after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness, arresting them, prosecuting them when they try to illegally buy firearms.”
"Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world," Murphy told reporters.
He also urged Congress to act.
"I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless," Murphy told NBC News. "We aren’t."
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., also lashed out at Cruz.
"F--- you @tedcruz," Gallego tweeted, "you care about a fetus but you will let our children get slaughtered. Just get your ass to Cancun. You are useless." Gallego appeared to be referring to Cruz's opposition to abortion rights and his trip to Mexico last year as Texas faced a crippling winter storm.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on Twitter, “Today, the entire state of Texas is in mourning.” He offered condolences to the families affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School, about 83 miles west of San Antonio.
Flags at the Capitol and the White House were lowered to half-staff to honor the victims of Tuesday's shooting.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the shooting a "cold-blooded massacre."
“For too long, some in Congress have offered hollow words after these shootings while opposing all efforts to save lives,” she said in a statement. “It is time for all in Congress to heed the will of the American people and join in enacting the House-passed bipartisan, commonsense, life-saving legislation into law.”