Joe Biden arrived this Sunday in the city of Uvalde in Texas, five days after the shooting at the elementary school, which killed 19 children and two teachers, to convey his condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy that shocked to the United States and reignited the firearms debate.

In Uvalde, Joe and Jill Biden will first go to the memorial erected in front of the elementary school where the shooting took place, before participating in a local noon mass. In the afternoon, they will meet with relatives of the victims and survivors of the massacre, then with members of the rescue teams.

As the harsh testimonies of the children who survived the attack become known, the president urged action to prevent future massacres in a country where efforts to tighten firearms regulations have repeatedly failed.

“America can be made safer,” Biden said in a speech on Saturday, lamenting that “so many innocent people have died.” “So I’m calling on all Americans right now to come together and make your voices heard and work together to make this nation what it can and should be,” the president said.

As always happens after these already common tragedies in the United States, the debate on the control of firearms is back on the table. Prominent US lawmakers expressed cautious optimism on Sunday to take some steps in that direction.

“There are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a way forward this time than we’ve seen since Sandy Hook,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy told ABC, recalling the 2012 Connecticut school shooting of that name. , which left 26 dead.

Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, was confident that “there will be some” opposition lawmakers who speak out in favor of pushing new rules, while Adam Kinzinger, a moderate Republican in the House of Representatives, who “now I am open to a ban” on firearms or greater requirements for their purchase and use.

Meanwhile, shocking stories emerged from children who survived Tuesday’s massacre, when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. Ramos entered a classroom, closed the door and addressed the children: “You are all going to die,” before opening fire, a survivor, 10-year-old Samuel Salinas, told ABC channel.

The police admitted to having made a “wrong decision” by delaying his admission to the educational center after being alerted to the shooting. Indeed, it took about an hour for the massacre to end, despite several calls from children asking for intervention. The 19 agents who were at the scene awaited the arrival of a specialized unit.

Survivors of the attack said they made whispered, pleading calls to 911. Some played dead to avoid drawing the shooter’s attention. Samuel Salinas said that he threw himself on the ground to simulate his death. Her partner Miah Cerrillo, 11, did the same to escape the attention of Salvador Ramos. She had just seen how Ramos killed her teacher after saying “good night.”

Since Wednesday, residents of this small town and other towns come at all hours to the improvised memorial with 21 white wooden crosses installed in the square with the names of 19 children and two dead teachers.

The silent attendees form a circle around the memorial, join hands and pray. They also leave flowers and stuffed animals that join the numerous messages of affection written on the crosses, words like “I love you” or “I will miss you”.

“It’s important to be here, to offer condolences to the community,” says Rosie Varela, 53, who traveled an hour from the Texas city of Del Rio with her husband and teenage son. “We have to help these children get out of this trauma, out of this pain,” Humberto Renovato, 33, who was born and raised in Uvalde, said by her side.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who in mid-May attended the funeral of one of the 10 black victims killed in a racist shooting in Buffalo, New York, said “we will not allow those who are motivated by hate to separate us or scare us “.

He also urged lawmakers to act. “Congress must have the courage to stand up, once and for all, to the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws,” he tweeted, referring to the powerful and influential National Rifle Association (NRA).

The Uvalde shooting is the worst in the United States since 20 children and six adults were gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

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