The death toll in a deadly shooting spree in Texas has continued to rise. According to investigators, 19 people died. US President Joe Biden is now calling for stricter gun laws.

An 18-year-old man opened fire at an elementary school in Texas, killing at least 19 schoolchildren. It is one of the deadliest school massacres in US history. According to investigators, the shooter entered the primary school in the small town of Uvalde on Tuesday afternoon and shot himself. At least two adults were also killed in the incident. According to initial findings, the shooter was killed by security forces. It was unclear if he was counted among the adult fatalities. US President Joe Biden addressed the nation after the massacre and called for stricter gun laws.

The Uvalde police initially gave no information on the death toll. Erick Estrada from the Texas Department of Public Safety spoke to CNN about the numbers. He also described the events leading up to the massacre. The suspect initially shot his grandmother, Estrada said. The incident happened in the grandmother’s apartment – she was taken to a hospital. Nothing was initially known about her condition.

Finally, the shooter drove to school in a car and caused an accident there, Estrada said. He then got out of the car and entered the school wearing a protective vest, a backpack and a gun. There he opened fire. The 18-year-old was then asked by the school’s security staff. However, Estrada emphasized that the investigation was still ongoing and that this information was still preliminary.

Biden: “We have to ask ourselves when we’re going to stand up to the gun lobby”

Biden immediately ordered flags on all public buildings in the United States to be flown at half-mast up to and including Saturday in view of the devastating attack. In the evening he had just returned from a multi-day trip to Asia. Accompanied by his wife Jill, he gave a speech at the White House shortly after landing. “As a nation, we have to ask ourselves when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said. The idea that an 18-year-old boy could walk into a gun store and buy two assault rifles is just wrong.

Vice President Kamela Harris had previously spoken and called for new political measures. “Enough is enough,” Harris said on Tuesday evening (local time) in Washington. “As a nation, we must have the courage to act.” Measures must be taken to ensure that such crimes don’t happen again, Harris said – without getting specific. “Our hearts keep getting broken.”

“I’m disgusted and tired,” OE Biden said. “Don’t tell me we can’t have any influence on this slaughter,” he said to Republicans who oppose stricter gun laws. The flood of weapons in the country, especially assault rifles, must be more tightly regulated. Biden keeps pointing the finger at Congress when it comes to stricter gun laws. Many Republicans reject stricter regulations – the gun lobby is very powerful in the USA. Biden’s Democrats lack the necessary votes in the US Senate for far-reaching changes in the law. Shooting sprees, including in schools, occur with sad regularity in the United States.

School shootings in the USA are not uncommon

A massacre at an elementary school ten years ago caused particular shock: in December 2012, a 20-year-old shot at the Sandy Hook elementary school. At that time, 20 school children and six teachers were killed. And just over a week ago, a gunman with an assault rifle opened fire in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and injuring three others. He was arrested at the scene of the crime. According to investigators, the act was racially motivated – 11 of the 13 victims were black.

Little was initially known about the background to the crime in Uvalde. The investigators kept a low profile. According to media reports, the shooter bought the weapon used in the crime about a week ago, shortly after his 18th birthday. The shooter’s behavior has recently changed, the Washington Post quoted a childhood friend of the shooter as saying. He lived with his mother and sometimes with his grandmother and has recently been behaving aggressively.

USA: 103 dead in 61 rampages last year

Last year, the FBI counted 61 gun shootings in the United States. The FBI announced on Monday evening (local time) in Washington that this was more than 50 percent more than in the previous year. The number has doubled since 2017. In 2021, 103 people were killed and 140 injured in rampages. That, too, is an increase of almost 50 percent compared to 2020. According to the information, 60 of the 61 shooters were men. The FBI uses a strict definition for the count: it only includes cases in which a perpetrator shoots at people in public in order to kill them. Classic criminal cases involving armed violence or shootings among gang members are ignored.

The level of gun violence overall is far greater in the United States. Fatal incidents involving firearms, which are readily available there, occur regularly. In its most recent statistics from 2020, the health authority CDC recorded a total of 45,222 gun deaths in the USA – more than 120 deaths per day.

Note: This article has been updated and supplemented. Corrected the number of dead in Buffalo. There were ten fatalities, not 13.