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An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on Wednesday (AEST) at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 130km west of San Antonio, killing 19 students and two adults.
US authorities identified the shooter as local Salvador Ramos, who was believed shot dead by law enforcement officers.
It was the deadliest shooting at a US primary school since the shocking attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
And it came just 10 days after a gunman in body armour killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities say was a racist attack.
US President Joe Biden addressed the Texas school shooting in emotional remarks from the White House, saying: “I had hoped when I became President I would not have to do this again.”
“There’s a lot we don’t know yet. There’s a lot we do know. Parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same. To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,” Biden, who has before spoken in deeply personal terms about the family tragedies he has endured, said.
Turning to the issue of gun control legislation, Biden implored politicians to “turn this pain into action”.
The shooting in Uvalde is all too familiar to some residents of Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
One of them was Erica Lafferty, daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the slain principal of the Sandy Hook school.
“It is just all too familiar and completely devastating. As soon as I heard the news, my mind immediately went back” to the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, she said.
“These families in that community are walking into hell and there is definitely a network of people out there who have lived it, who are stepping up to support them … But it’s not going to just go away. Not for the families, not for the community.
“It’s life-changing. It’s devastating. It’s traumatising, and every single time it happens, it brings it back like it was yesterday,” Lafferty said.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has repeatedly pushed for legislative action following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said: “This only happens in this country, and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking they might be shot that day.
“Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they’re going to be next.
“What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job — of putting yourself in a position of authority — if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing.”
Basketball superstar LeBron James tweeted his thoughts following the shooting.
“Like when is enough enough man!!! These are kids and we keep putting them in harms way at school. Like seriously “AT SCHOOL” where it’s suppose to be the safest!”
A fiery Kerr opened his remarks by telling the press “basketball questions don’t matter” right now. Kerr, while banging on the table he was seated at, said: “When are we going to do something?”
Kerr called out “50 senators who refuse to vote on HR-8,” a House bill that strengthens firearm background checks, claiming, “they won’t vote on it because they want to hold onto their own power.”
Actress Bette Midler echoed Kerr and took aim at the gun lobby and right-wing US politicians.
She tweeted: “This nation is full of people who cannot control their worst impulses and the innocent always pay the price.
“Don’t save fetuses only to have them die at school because you love your guns more than life. Shame.”
Former president Barack Obama responded to the shooting in Texas by saying the United States “is paralysed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies”.
“It’s long past time for action, any kind of action. And it’s another tragedy—a quieter but no less tragic one—for families to wait another day. May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.”
School shootings in the US
There have been dozens of shootings and other attacks in US schools and colleges over the years, but until the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, the number of dead tended to be in the single digits.
Since then, the number of shootings that included schools and killed 10 or more people has mounted.
The most recent two were both in Texas.
Robb Elementary School, Texas, May 2022
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire on Wednesday (AEST) at primary school in Uvalde, Texas. The death toll currently stands at 18.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, February 2018
An attack left 14 students and three staff members dead at the school in Parkland, Florida, and injured many others. The 20-year-old suspect was charged with murder.
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut, December 2012
A 19-year-old man killed his mother at their home in Newtown, Connecticut, then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 first graders and six educators. He took his own life.
Virginia Tech, April 2007
A 23-year-old student killed 32 people on the campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, in April 2007; more than two dozen others were wounded. The gunman then killed himself.
Columbine High School, April 1999
Two students killed 12 of their peers and one teacher at the school in Littleton, Colorado, and injured many others before killing themselves.
– Reported with Associated Press, CNN