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Biden pushes Congress for assault weapons ban on Uvalde shooting anniversary

Click to play video: 'Biden marks 1-year anniversary of Uvalde shooting: ‘too many schools have become killing fields’'
Biden marks 1-year anniversary of Uvalde shooting: ‘too many schools have become killing fields’
WATCH: Biden marks 1-year anniversary of Uvalde shooting: ‘too many schools have become killing fields’ – May 24, 2023

President Joe Biden renewed his call for a ban on assault weapons as he and his wife Jill held a White House event on Wednesday to mourn the 21 victims shot dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, one year ago.

The May 24, 2022, massacre, in which an 18-year-old gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle inside Robb Elementary School, killing 19 children and two teachers, marked the deadliest U.S. school shooting in almost a decade.

The assault ended when police officers who had waited more than an hour to storm in and directly confront the gunman – even as children hiding inside repeatedly called emergency-911 for help – finally charged into the classroom and shot the suspect dead.

Law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde school attack has been widely viewed as disastrous.

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Click to play video: '‘Band-Aid on a gunshot wound’: Uvalde parents fearful as kids go back to school for 1st time since shooting'
‘Band-Aid on a gunshot wound’: Uvalde parents fearful as kids go back to school for 1st time since shooting

The tragedy stands as the nation’s bloodiest single episode of gun violence over the past year, even as incidents of mass shootings and threats of armed bloodshed have become all too commonplace in American life, making “active-shooter” drills routine in schools and other institutions.

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“We can’t end this epidemic until Congress passes common sense gun safety laws and keeps weapons of war off our streets and out of the hands of dangerous people (and) until states do the same thing,” Biden said.

Click to play video: 'Uvalde school board fires police chief 3 months after Texas mass shooting'
Uvalde school board fires police chief 3 months after Texas mass shooting

More children and teenagers in the United States were killed by guns than any other cause in 2020, according to an analysis of U.S. government mortality data by researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Biden repeated his appeal for Congress to ban AR-15 assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

“The number one killer of children are guns,” Biden said.

“It’s time to act, it’s time to act. It’s time to make our voices heard. Not as Democrats or as Republicans but as friends, as neighbors, as parents, as fellow Americans,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Texas school shooting: Uvalde police release body camera footage of school massacre'
Texas school shooting: Uvalde police release body camera footage of school massacre

During the ceremony, a solemn Biden and first lady paused at each of four pillars holding lit candles with the names of the children and educators who perished.

Biden spoke softly, struggling at times with emotion, and mentioned planning a memorial service this weekend marking the anniversary of the death of his son Beau, who died of a brain tumor, in 2015.

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–Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Sonali Paul

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