Federal flags are flying at half-staff again across the United States, as the country is mourning the loss of 21 lives, including those of 19 children who were shot dead at an elementary school on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.
Hours after the shooting, President Joe Biden said "to lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away... It's time to turn this pain into action. Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?."
It seems every U.S. politician asks or is asked the question in the wake of every mass shooting, but their answers have always been prepared along the party line. At the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, both spoke on the 50-50 Senate floor following the Uvalde school shooting.
Schumer called on Republicans to pass pro-gun control legislation to help end "the plague of gun violence that has taken over this country," while McConnell put the blame clearly on the 18-year-old gunman, describing him as "deranged" and "maniac."
The top Senate Democrat didn't mention the shooter's possible mental health issue, and the top Senate Republican didn't mention the shooter's easy access to high-powered weapons, let alone any preventative legislative solutions.
The U.S. Congress has failed to pass any major gun control laws in more than two decades. Even though the legislation had majority support, it failed under Senate filibuster rules. A similar but possibly more dramatic scenario took place at a press conference held by Texan leaders in Uvalde on Wednesday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican seeking reelection this year, also placed the blame for the shooting on mental illness, though he admitted that the gunman, who was killed by law enforcement on the scene, had no known mental health history.
"Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge, period. We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and do something about it," Abbott said, downplaying concerns about an 18-year-old's ability to purchase firearms.
"This is totally predictable. This is on you. The time to stop the next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing," Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke yelled at the governor, angrily interrupting the press conference and being led away by officers.
In response, the governor, who had signed a law last year allowing Texans over 21 to legally carry handguns without needing a license, called on people to "put aside personal agendas," implying that O'Rourke's interruption was behind political motives.
Fierce partisan fights make Biden's plea for action against rampant gun violence across the country seem like "weak tea."
The United States has seen at least 212 mass shootings so far this year, according to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive. As of Tuesday, over 31,300 people have died or been injured due to gun-related incidents in the country this year.