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Biden says too many schools have become 'killing fields' since Uvalde shooting

The president said families pleaded with him to “do something” after the mass shooting one year ago at Robb Elementary School.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that American schools have turned into "killing fields" in the year since a mass shooter gunned down nineteen students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Biden, standing before 21 candles at the base of the White House Grand Staircase, spoke of the grief experienced by the families who lost loved ones and urged Congress to act on guns.

Biden said families in Uvalde had pleaded with him to “do something” in the wake of the carnage.

“Too many everyday places have become killing fields in communities across America,” Biden said in somber remarks marking the anniversary of the shooting. “And in each place, we hear the same message: 'Do something. 'For God’s sake, just do something.”

Biden appealed to federal and state lawmakers to enact “common sense gun safety laws” to “keep weapons of war off our streets and out of the hands of dangerous people,” and said it was time to put an end to immunity from liability for gun manufacturers.

“How many more mothers will live their worst nightmare before we stand up the gun lobby?” Biden asked, before mounting a call to put partisan politics aside. “It’s time to act. It’s time to make our voices heard. Not as Democrats or Republicans. But as friends, neighbors, parents — and as fellow Americans.”

Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old former student, entered the elementary school building through an unlocked door before turning a semi-automatic-style gun on two adjoining classrooms in one of the most deadly school shootings the U.S. has seen.

Officers who arrived at the school did not confront the gunman and instead stood in a hallway outside for more than 45 minutes, according to accounts of the attack and surveillance video. More than seventy minutes had passed by the time U.S. Border Patrol burst into a fourth-grade classroom. 

The delay amid a sizable law enforcement response, with personnel from agencies that included the Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Border Patrol, and local police all on the scene, prompted immediate calls for accountability from local and state officials and parents of the victims. 

Still, it wasn’t until October that the Uvalde school district said it would suspend its police department and an officer at the scene became the first member of the force to be fired in the fallout. A month later, Uvalde's acting police chief stepped down.