Most deadly school shooting in decade amid unending U.S. gun violence exposes dysfunctional system
* As of Tuesday, over 31,300 people have died or been injured due to gun-related incidents in the United States this year, according to a database run by the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive.
* The time has come for the United States to truly mend its extensive gun violence and heal the wounds of a society in disarray.
* The United States has seen at least 212 mass shootings so far this year, according to an online database that keeps a record of the country's gun violence incidents.
by Xinhua writer Xu Jianmei
The names of at least 19 children and two teachers who were killed on Tuesday in the deadliest U.S. school shooting over nearly a decade are gradually being revealed in Uvalde, in the U.S. state of Texas.
Eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia and ten-year-old Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez were among the victims, local media outlets reported early Wednesday morning.
Distraught families of the Robb Elementary School students gathered at a local community center late into the night of Tuesday, making pleas for help to find missing children. A number of parents had been asked for DNA swabs to confirm their relationship with their children, local media reported.
The tragedy is the deadliest shooting at a school since the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in 2012 that left 26 people dead, including 20 children between 6 and 7 years old.
The shooting once again demonstrates that gun violence, a deep-rooted problem in the United States, is worsening.
As of Tuesday, over 31,300 people have died or been injured due to gun-related incidents in the United States this year, according to a database run by the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive.
The time has come for the United States to truly mend its extensive gun violence and heal the wounds of a society in disarray. What lies behind the chronic woe is a long-overdue response by self-serving political elites, more obsessed with political posturing than passing legislation to bring about necessary changes.
"There are parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them ... To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away," U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday night.
The president has ordered U.S. flags on federal grounds to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday to remember the victims of these "senseless acts of violence."
The number of the injured remained unclear as of early Wednesday morning. Uvalde Memorial Hospital spokesperson Tom Nordwick earlier said that as many as 13 children and a man in his 40s were being treated for injuries following the shooting.
Erika Escamilla, a local resident, told The Washington Post of her 10-year-old niece's experience during the shooting happening in the classroom next to hers.
The young girl heard a man cursing and yelling, and then gunshots. Afterward, when her class was evacuated, she looked into the classroom and saw the horrific scene, said Escamilla.
"She's traumatized ... She saw blood everywhere," said Escamilla.
The assailant, an 18-year-old man who entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, "shot and killed (these kids) horrifically, incomprehensibly," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a news briefing earlier on Tuesday.
Police are believed to have killed the gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, a local high school student aged 18 who also shot his grandmother before crashing a vehicle near the school. He is believed to have acted alone.
"I am sick and tired of it. We have to act," Biden said from the White House hours afterward, calling the shooting a "carnage."
"The gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit," said Biden, "We have to have the courage to stand up to the industry."
"How many more children must lose their lives from senseless gun violence?" Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner questioned in a statement following the shooting.
"By doing nothing to prevent gun violence, (our) nation chooses this pain," an editorial published by the San Antonio Express-News said.
March for Our Lives, a student-led movement supporting gun control legislation, tweeted that "you can't stop a bullet with thoughts and prayers."
"To honor those lost and save countless lives, we need action," the group wrote. "We're dying while we wait for it."
Before the Uvalde shooting, there had been at least 39 shootings in K-12 schools, colleges and universities through 2022, resulting in at least 10 deaths and 51 injuries across the United States, according to a CNN report.
The United States has seen at least 212 mass shootings so far this year, according to an online database that keeps a record of the country's gun violence incidents.
More than 17,000 people have died in gun-related episodes across the United States over the past five months, including approximately 640 children and teenagers.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut delivered an emotional call to action on the Senate floor following the school shooting in Uvalde, saying that "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," the senator said.
Last week, 38 gun control groups urged lawmakers to take immediate action in a letter to Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The groups first requested that House Democrats "appropriate 750 million U.S. dollars for evidence-led Community Violence Initiatives," which they said could "break cycles of violence by addressing their root causes through meaningful investments to community-led programs."
They also urged Senate Democrats to "live up to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's pledge to hold a Senate debate" and vote on legislation to expand background checks to all gun purchases.
They also wanted the leaders to address the "Charleston Loophole," which allows gun purchases to move forward after three business days, even with an incomplete background check.
"Following the most recent racist act of domestic terrorism in Buffalo, New York and the increase in gun violence across the country, we are calling on you to immediately do everything and anything in your power to live up to the promises you make to voters every election year," the groups wrote in their letter.