Eighteen students and one teacher were shot and killed and dozens more were injured in the massacre.
“I’d hoped when I became president that I would not have to do this again,” Biden said after taking the podium, referring to when he spoke about the deaths of schoolchildren at the Sandy Hook massacre.
The president addressed the nation after returning from his diplomatic trip to Asia earlier in the evening.
He mourned the loss of the school children and their suffering parents, who would “never see their child again, never have them jump into bed and cuddle with them.”
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Biden also noted that the children who were not killed in the school would be “forever changed” after watching their fellow students die “as if they were in a battlefield, for God’s sake.”
“To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,” he said.
Quoting scripture, Biden reminded Americans that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
He asked the country to pray for the victims and their families before pivoting to an angry rant demanding more gun control.
“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said angrily. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”
Biden demanded that the Assault Weapons Ban be reinstated, pointing out that mass shootings “rarely” happened in other parts of the world.
“Why?” he asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone? … It’s time to act.”
Biden specifically called out political leaders who voted to protect the Second Amendment by opposing more gun control laws.
“We need to let you know that we will not forget,” Biden said. “We can do so much more. We have to do more.”