Tuesday’s tragedy in Uvalde, Tex., was the deadliest mass shooting at an American school in nearly a decade.
British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said she was “horrified.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would be mourning with Americans. Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union ambassador to the United States, called the violence “senseless.” Germany’s envoy to Washington, Emily Haber, said she had “no more words” in a short tweet. Mexico’s government condemned the shooting — and pointed to the predominantly Hispanic population of the Texas town.
French President Emmanuel Macron noted in a tweet that “19 victims were under age 10.”
“Children and teachers were murdered in a cowardly attack in their Texas school,” he said. “We share the shock and grief of the American people, and the rage of those who are fighting to end the violence.”
Gérard Araud, the former French ambassador to the United States during the Obama and Trump administrations, was blunter in his assessment of the shooting and U.S. gun laws: “A craziness without any prospect of improvement.”
The comment underscores how the Uvalde shooting is the latest in an epidemic in the United States — a stark contrast to many other developed countries, where such gun violence is rare, or even unheard of.
President Biden, back from a trip to South Korea and Japan, expressed frustration during a speech on Tuesday evening, saying, “I just got off my trip from Asia, meeting with Asian leaders, and I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. What struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world.”
“Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes,” he continued. “They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why?”
This year alone, there have been 24 school shootings in the United States, according to a Washington Post database. Last year, the country saw at least 42 acts of gun violence committed on K-12 campuses during regular hours in 2021. It has experienced at least 132 school shootings since 2018.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, appearing on CBS’s “Late Show” on Tuesday evening, said she viewed the assault not as a politician, but as a mother. Her country adopted tougher gun laws after a man with a military-style rifle killed 51 people at two mosques in 2019.
“I think about what happened to us, and all I can reflect is: We are a very pragmatic people. When we saw something like that happen, everyone said, ‘Never again.’ And so then it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that.”
“Now, we have legitimate needs for guns in our country for things like peace control and to protect our biodiversity, but you don’t need a military-style semiautomatic weapon to do that. And so we got rid of that,” she added. Australia also adopted stricter gun laws after a mass shooting in 1996 left 35 people dead.
Some researchers who have studied gun death figures say fatalities from firearms tend to be higher in areas where people have easy access to the weapons.
Amnesty International, the human rights group, goes a step further, assigning causality: Wide access to firearms and loose regulations lead to tens of thousands of deaths in the United States, its website says.
“Among wealthier, developed countries, the U.S.A. is an outlier when it comes to firearm violence,” it says. “U.S. governments have allowed gun violence to become a human rights crisis.”
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said the city “stands with Uvalde” — “and all those campaigning to enact laws to end these senseless and devastating attacks.”
Utterly heartbroken to hear of the Uvalde school shooting and murder of innocent children and adults. My prayers are with the families of those lost and the community.
London stands with Uvalde & all those campaigning to enact laws to end these senseless and devastating attacks.— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) May 25, 2022
— Jennifer Hassan and Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.