After The Texas School Shooting, Will Anything Really Change? Here’s What Joe Biden Has Said About Gun Control

‘It is time to turn this pain into action.'

Texas school shooting vigil

by Georgia Aspinall |

The world continues to react to the devastating Texas school shooting that saw 19 children and two teachers murdered by an 18-year-old gunman. After scores of online outrage from American citizens, President Joe Biden has given a speech calling for tougher gun controls across the nation.

‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?’ he asked. ‘When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?... We have to act.’

It’s the sentiment many have shared online in the wake of attack by shooter Salvador Ramos, who bought two assault rifles on his 18th birthday and wore body armour as he went classroom to classroom killing children. The worst US school shooting since 20 children and six adults died at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, this is the latest in more than 2000 school shootings in the US - since 1970 when records first began. According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 School Shooting Database, an incident is logged every time a gun is brandished or discharged on school property, and last year logs reached an all-time high at over 250 incidents.

That's what everyone is Googling right now too, with 'How many school shootings in the US?' trending (as well as those around the gunman - 'Who was the shooter in the Texas school shooting?' - and 'Texas school shooting victims').

Watching this from the UK, it’s difficult to even process that information – our history with gun control is much different. In 1996, 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, the deadliest mass shooting in our history. In response, the British government passed two new Firearms Acts which outlawed the private ownership of most handguns – there has not been one school shooting since.

So when pro-gun politicians throw up their hands aghast at what can be done to protect children from being gunned down at school in their country, when they suggest more robust security at schools or better mental health services, most of us Brits are left dumbfounded… there is one very simple solution here: ban guns.

Of course, it’s never that simple in the US – as evidenced by the fact their own president can promote gun reform while his own hands are seemingly tied. The issue? Republican resistance. Democratic politicians have long tried to reach a compromise with gun-obsessed republicans. In March 2021 a Democratic bill to expand background checks passed in the House of Representatives but by December, Senate Republicans had voted to block movement on the bill. Now, Senate Democrats are calling for another vote

Every day that we are not passing gun laws is a day that we are failing to save our people from preventable gun violence.

‘Once again, we saw a stunning display of cowardice from Senate Republicans, who blocked a bill that would require background checks on every gun sale. This is a measure supported by more than 90% of Americans,’ Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords Federal Affairs Director, said in a statement back in December. ‘These lawmakers continue to prioritize the corrupt interests of the gun lobby over those of the American people. Every day that we are not passing gun laws is a day that we are failing to save our people from preventable gun violence.’

Whether or not Republicans will be moved to change their position by this latest shooting remains to be seen, but few have hope. After all, the last vote to block the bill came just days after a school shooting in Michigan.

Ultimately, the apathy of Americans towards gun control has come from decades of failed attempts to better legislate gun-use. And this is just for common-sense reforms around background checks and the sale of certain weapons, this isn’t even to fully restrict gun usage as other countries have done in the wake of such tragedies. Will anything change then? It seems unlikely – but one can hope.

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