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Biden says "the Second Amendment is not absolute" after Texas mass shooting

Biden addresses Texas shooting, signs policing order
Biden addresses Texas shooting, signs executive order on policing 17:28

President Biden on Wednesday said he and first lady Jill Biden will head to Texas "in the coming days" to do whatever they can to comfort the community ripped apart by the killing of 19 young students

The president, addressing the shooting in formal remarks for the second time since it happened one day earlier, reiterated the need for "common-sense" gun reform measures and urging the Senate to confirm his nominee to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The president made the remarks during an event focused on his signing of an executive order to enhance police accountability. 

"Since I spoke last night, the confirmed death toll has tragically climbed, including another teacher and two more—three more students," the president said. "Jill and I will be traveling to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families, and let them know we have a sense, just a sense of their pain. And hopefully, bring some little comfort to the community in shock and grief and in trauma. As a nation, I think we all must be there for them. Everyone. And we must ask when in God's name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country."

Without going into specific legislation, the president said that "common-sense gun reforms," while they cannot prevent every tragedy, can have a significant impact without hurting the Second Amendment. 

"The Second Amendment is not absolute," the president said. 

U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order to reform federal and local policing on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd, in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden listens ahead of the signing of an executive order to reform federal and local policing on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd, during an event at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2022. KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

As he did Tuesday night, the president urged members of Congress to stand up to the gun lobby. 

"The idea that an 18-year-old can walk into a store and buy weapons of war designed and marketed to kill is I think just wrong," Mr. Biden said. "Just violates common sense. Even the manufacturer, the inventor, of that weapon, thought that as well. You know, where's the backbone?"

The president's nominee for ATF director, Steve Dettelbach, was grilled on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Some Republicans expressed concern over Dettelbach's past support for an assault weapons ban. 

"The Senate should confirm him without delay, without excuse," Mr. Biden said of his nominee Wednesday. "Send the nomination to my desk. It's time for action." 

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday also urged Congress to pass "reasonable" gun safety laws Wednesday, speaking ahead of the president. 

"As the president said last night, we must have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws," she said. "We must work together to create and America where everyone feels safe in their community. Where children feel safe in their schools."

Rob Legare contributed to this report 

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