“Grotesque.” “Truly horrific.” “Senseless.”
Those were only some of the words lawmakers from across the country uttered in the wake of yet another mass shooting, one that left at least 19 children and two adults dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The Uvalde Police Department received reports of an active shooter at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas early Tuesday afternoon. An 18-year-old suspect was shot and killed at the scene, according to officials. Information is still emerging on the identity of the suspect, a possible motive and other potential victims.
Some lawmakers are urging patience as more information becomes available; others have already condemned the suspect to eternal damnation for the killings. But nearly all agreed that more needs to be done to protect America’s children.
President Joe Biden was briefed on the “horrific” news of the shooting, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted Tuesday evening, and addressed the nation upon his return from Asia.
Biden called for action in the wake of the deadly shooting, asking: "When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?"
“I am sick and tired," Biden said, just days after he met with the families of victims of a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. "We have to act. And don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage."
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world,” Biden said, adding: "It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official this country: it's time to act."
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was also briefed on the mass casualty event, and DHS is “actively coordinating with federal, state, and local partners, and will continue to provide the Department’s full support,” a spokesperson wrote in part.
In an interview with Spectrum News, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called the news “truly horrific,” that the United States is “dealing with yet another mass shooting targeting kids,” saying “there have been too damn many of these” mass shootings.
“This is evil. It is grotesque. It is wrong,” Cruz added, going on to say: “There is a special circle of hell for people that target children. It is the worst form of evil that we have. And when it comes to school safety there is considerably more we need to do.”
Cruz said it is still too early to speak on specific details of the shooting, but argued “there is no doubt we need to do more in terms of vigorous law enforcement to keep our kids safe.”
Fellow Texas’ Sen. John Cornyn told reporters he will travel back to his home state this evening, saying he and other officials are still trying to get a clear picture of what transpired.
Texas’ House Speaker Dade Phelan called it a “horrific” and “heartbreaking situation,” adding: “Please pray for the students, teachers, families and everyone else involved.”
Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde’s district in the House of Representatives, tweeted that his “heart breaks” for the people of the city.
Lawmakers from across the country shared their own experiences with mass tragedy in the wake of the shooting in Texas.
For some, the tragedy evoked memories of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, when a 20-year-old shot and killed 26 victims, 20 of whom were children, at a school in Connecticut.
One such lawmaker was Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who wrote on Twitter: “Oh my god. I’m shaking. I’m just shaking all over. With fear. With anger. With resolve.” Murphy was elected to serve as senator in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, and gun control has been one of his leading causes while in Congress.
Murphy also delivered a passionate speech urging his colleagues to take action in the aftermath of yet another deadly mass shooting.
“Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons we have another Sandy Hook on our hands,” Murphy continued, evoking last week’s mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store. “What are we doing? More mass shootings than days in the year, 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?”
Fellow Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who has held his seat since 2011, similarly said his ”heart breaks as I re-live the shock & grief of Sandy Hook ten years ago, knowing the infinite pain that will hit these families in Texas.”
“This senseless violence will stop only when Congress matches thoughts & prayers with action,” he said, adding: “No words can capture my wrenching sadness for the Robb Elementary School families & for our great nation that continues to be torn apart by horrendous gun violence—taking so many beautiful lives & spreading anguish & horror.”
Others were reminded of the 2018 Parkland High School shooting in Florida, when a lone gunman shot and killed 17 people.
“I will never forget presenting a bill on the Floor as I watched my colleagues become frenetic as we learned about Parkland,” Florida state representative Randy Fine wrote on Twitter. “I think of how heartbroken we were — and are — as we pray for those children, staff, and families in Texas. May the murderer spend eternity in hell.”
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who was serving as governor of the state when the Parkland shooting, said he and his wife were “heartbroken to hear about the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School.”
“No student should ever be afraid to go to school. The violence must end,” he added. “We are praying for all of the victims, their families & all affected by this senseless act.”
Senators from Nevada also voiced their heartbreak over the mass shooting in Texas. The deadliest mass killing by a single individual in U.S. history occurred in Las Vegas in 2017 at Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting, 56 were killed and 489 wounded.
“The news of a deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas is horrifying and absolutely heartbreaking,” Sen. Jacky Rosen, who was elected in 2018, wrote on Twitter. “No child should be afraid to go to school. No parent or community should ever experience this kind of pain.”
Fellow Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who was elected to the Senate in 2017, also shared her thoughts, writing: “I’m heartbroken. Paul and I are praying for the victims and their loved ones during this time of unimaginable pain.”
“Children should be safe in this country,” she added. “Everyone should be safe in this country. We must protect people from this senseless violence.”
"Children went to school today and were killed in a mass shooting. Another American community shattered by gun violence," New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. "Another round of thoughts and prayers. They’re hollow words if we continue to do nothing to end the violent, unrelenting, preventable shootings in our county."
"Thoughts and prayers are not enough," former secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter. "After years of nothing else, we are becoming a nation of anguished screams. We simply need legislators willing to stop the scourge of gun violence in America that is murdering our children."
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson appeared on Fox Business following the shooting, saying “no adequate words to express the horror at Robb Elementary.”
“My sincere condolences to these families,” he added. “Something this horrific, children being slaughtered in their school, it does not get worse than this.”
Fellow Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin also shared her condolences with the families of those lost, saying it was beyond time for lawmakers to pass gun control reform, calling mass shootings a “public health crisis.”
“My heart breaks, again. A mass shooting at a school, again. More lives lost to gun violence, again,” she said. “How many more times will we say again...and accept doing nothing? We have got to step up, take on this public health crisis, and start saving lives.”
Florida Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat, shared her own heartfelt message to Twitter, writing: “Another school shooting. I can hardly speak. Every parent in America should be mad as hell that the Senators of the greatest country in the world have chosen not to do a damn thing about innocent people gunned down in innocent places. Praying for the victims at Robb Elementary.”
NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the latest death toll figures.