Pope Francis says his “heart is broken” after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, calling on the US to act to prevent the spread of guns.
The shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday left 19 students and two adults dead. The gunman, identified by law enforcement as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was also killed.
Speaking during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, Francis called for an end to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms.
"I am praying for the children and adults who were killed, and for their families. It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms," he said.
“Let us all commit ourselves so that such tragedies can never happen again,” he added.
The gunman wielded an AR-15-style rifle in the shooting, with officials saying he legally purchased two such weapons days before the massacre.
The incident came just 10 days after a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., which left 10 people dead and had already led many to push for action on gun safety.
Other Catholic leaders also spoke out against gun violence following the Texas shooting. Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said on Twitter Tuesday that America was “awash in guns” and that “mass shootings have become a daily reality.”
“As I reflect on this latest American massacre, I keep returning to the questions: Who are we as a nation if we do not act to protect our children? What do we love more: our instruments of death or our future?” he asked. “The right to bear arms will never be more important than human life. Our children have rights too. And our elected officials have a moral duty to protect them.”
Also on Tuesday, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement, called school shootings an “epidemic of evil and violence.”
“There have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent,” the statement read.
Tuesday's massacre was the worst at a US school since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.
More than 3,000 children and teens have been shot and killed and 15,000 more have been shot and injured since Sandy Hook, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, which tracks gun violence and other shootings on school grounds.
Meanwhile, US Congress has consistently failed to pass federal gun control legislation due to the influence of the powerful gun lobby.
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