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Vice President Kamala Harris Tuesday condemned the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, while calling on Congress to have “the courage to act” and renew the assault weapons ban to “end this horror,” and protect communities across the nation from “the terror of gun violence.”
The vice president traveled to Chicago Tuesday with her husband, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff on the heels of a deadly weekend in Chicago—including a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on the outskirts of the city in Highland Park that took the lives of seven and left over 30 injured.
The vice president’s remarks came at the beginning of the National Education Association 2022 Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly at the McCormick Convention Center.
“I want to just briefly, but importantly, address the tragedy just miles away in Highland Park,” she said at the beginning of the meeting. “As we all know, yesterday should have been a day to come together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence. And instead, that community suffered a violent tragedy.”
“Children, parents, grandparents, victims, a senseless act of gun violence. And Doug, who is here with me, he and I, of course, we mourn, as you do for those who were killed, and we pray for those who were injured and we all grieve, I know for the lives that have forever changed in that community, including, of course, the students and the teachers of that community who have suffered great loss.”
“We need to end this horror. We need to stop this violence. And we must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence,” the vice president continued, adding that the nation is “still mourning” the children and teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas, last month.
Harris said the Uvalde “massacre was the most recent reminder in body of the risks that our children and our educators face every day.”
“Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom,” she said. “Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound, and teachers should not be told that lives have been saved if only you had a gun.”
The vice president said that the Biden administration has “made some progress,” pointing to the bipartisan gun safety bill that President Biden signed, which strengthens background checks and closes “what we call the boyfriend loophole.”
“And it includes funding for mental health services and school security, but we have more to do–we have more to do,” she said. “And Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban.”
The vice president said there is “no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America.”
“We need reasonable gun safety laws and we need to have Congress to stop protecting those gun manufacturers with the liability shield, repeal it, repeal it,” she said.
Authorities in Highland Park have arrested 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III in connection with the shooting.
The gunman opened fire at the 4th of July parade, killing Katherine Goldstein, 64, Irina McCarthy, 35, Kevin McCarthy, 37, Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63, and Stephen Straus, 88, all from Highland Park, and Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza of Morelos, Mexico, 78.
Police announced Tuesday afternoon that a seventh victim has died of injuries sustained in the mass shooting. The identity of the seventh victim has not been released.
In a statement Monday, Harris said that, “on what should be a celebratory day with family and friends, we are grieving the lives that were taken in another act of senseless gun violence.”
Harris offered prayers to the dozens of people who were hospitalized and for the loved ones of those who lost their lives, while thanking law enforcement and first responders who arrived at the scene and “undoubtedly saved lives.”
Harris said the shooting was “an unmistakable reminder that more should be done to address gun violence in our country.”
“President Biden recently signed into law the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost 30 years — and we will continue fighting to end this senseless violence,” Harris said.