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US President Joe Biden on Sunday, May 7, called on Congress to pass gun control bills in the wake of yet another mass shooting that left nine people dead, including the gunman, at a Texas mall on Saturday.
The Democratic president renewed calls for Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to enact universal background checks and end immunity for gun manufacturers. There is little chance the narrowly divided House and Senate would pass such legislation, although polls show most Americans support background checks.
Police have released minimal details about the gunman who killed eight people and wounded at least seven shortly on Saturday afternoon at Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas. In his statement, Biden said the assailant was wearing tactical gear and wielding an AR-15 rifle.
Allen Police said three injured victims were hospitalized in critical condition on Sunday, and at least three were hospitalized in fair condition, including one at a children’s hospital. The assailant fatally shot eight people, including at least one child, before a police officer killed him, police said on Saturday.
By Sunday evening, law enforcement had not released details about a possible motive or the identities of the victims. A family member identified one of the slain victims on social media as Christian LaCour, a security guard.
“We watched this sweet young boy turn into a very sweet gentleman,” Kellie Smith wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, identifying LaCour as the brother of her son-in-law. “Words can not even begin to describe the devastation that our family feels.”
A graphic 10-second video was circulating on Twitter on Saturday, showing several dead bodies slumped against a planter and white wall bearing the sign of retailer H&M.
At least one of the individuals, lifeless and bloody, appears to be a young child. Reuters was able to verify the video was taken at the mall where the shooting took place.
In past shootings, social media sites worked to take down links to such graphic images. An emailed request for comment to Twitter, which no longer has a communications team, returned an automated reply with a poop emoji.
At least 199 mass shootings have occurred in the United States so far in 2023, the most at this point in the year since at least 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as any in which four or more people are wounded or killed, not including the shooter.
Tragedy reignites gun control debate
The tragedy in Allen, which happened just over a week after another deadly shooting in the Texas town of Cleveland, reignited the heated debate over gun control in the United States.
The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, a hot button one for many Republicans who are backed by millions in donations from gun rights groups and manufacturers.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, called the shooting “devastating” in a Sunday morning interview on Fox News and said the way to effectively tackle gun violence lies in addressing mental health.
“There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” he said. “We are working to address that anger and violence by going to his root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats stressed the need to pass stronger gun safety legislation to curtail gun violence.
On Sunday evening, community members packed into Cottonwood Creek Church to hold a vigil for the victims.
“Our hearts were broken yesterday,” Allen Mayor Ken Fulk told the congregation. “We thank you for your patience and understanding during this ongoing investigation.” – Rappler.com