President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged Congress to “take immediate action” on gun legislation in the wake of a shooting in San Jose, California, that killed eight people earlier in the day, noting that he was ordering the flag lowered to half-staff just weeks after other mass shootings around the country.
“Enough,” Biden said in a statement. “Once again, I urge Congress to take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”
A gunman killed eight people when he opened fire at public transit rail yard. The investigation is ongoing and officials have not released a possible motive. The shooter, an employee of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), is also dead.
Biden described the shooting as a “horrific tragedy” and said he and Vice President Kamala Harris, who also called on Congress to act, had been briefed on the situation.
“We are still awaiting many of the details of this latest mass shooting, but there are some things we know for sure. There are at least eight families who will never be whole again. There are children, parents, and spouses who are waiting to hear whether someone they love is ever going to come home. There are union brothers and sisters — good, honest, hardworking people — who are mourning their own,” Biden said.
The President added: “Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more.”
Biden’s ordering of the flag to be lowered follows recent mass shootings in and around Atlanta, Indianapolis, Boulder, Colorado, and Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The United States flag will be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds throughout the nation until sunset on Sunday, according to a proclamation signed by the President.
“God bless all those whose lives were lost today, and all those who loved them,” Biden said.
The President was briefed on the shooting by his Homeland Security adviser, Liz Sherwood-Randall, according to a White House official. The official said the White House is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with local officials.
Earlier Wednesday, Harris described the shooting as “absolutely tragic.”
“I have family that lives in San Jose. I’ve worked for many, many years with the mayor of San Jose and that police department, and my prayers and my thoughts are with all those families that have been affected,” Harris said.
“The epidemic of gun violence in America must end. Congress must act,” she wrote in a tweet Wednesday evening.
Last month, Biden unveiled several executive actions his administration would be taking on guns, including efforts to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns that can be built using parts and instructions purchased online. The actions were limited in scope and Biden said they are only initial steps to address gun violence.
The President, who has called gun violence in America a “national embarrassment,” has called for the Senate to pass legislation strengthening background checks that already passed the House and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Wednesday’s shooting in San Jose is the latest in a series of high-profile mass shootings that have rocked the nation, including one at an Indianapolis FedEx facility that killed eight people, one at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people and a shooting rampage in the Atlanta area that killed eight people. The spate of mass shootings has led to increased calls for gun control measures, but gun legislation passing the Senate –where Democrats have a narrow majority — remains an uphill battle.