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Biden on Michigan State shooting: ‘We have to do something to stop gun violence from ripping apart our communities’

<i>Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>
AFP via Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

By Donald Judd and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on lawmakers to take steps to address gun violence in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University, pledging federal support to assist in the ongoing investigation.

Three students were killed and five others are in critical condition after a gunman opened fire Monday evening on two parts of the university’s East Lansing campus. The shooting prompted an hours-long shelter-in-place order as hundreds of officers from multiple agencies converged on the campus to search for the gunman. He later died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said Monday evening.

“I want to take a moment to say our hearts are with the students and the family of Michigan State University,” Biden said at a National Association of Counties gathering in Washington Tuesday afternoon. “Last night, I spoke with Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer, and the FBI and additional federal law enforcement are on the ground assisting the state and local folks, and three lives have been lost, five seriously injured. And it’s a family’s worst nightmare, and it’s happening far too often in this country, far too often. While we gather more information, there’s one thing we do know to be true, we have to do something to stop gun violence from ripping apart our communities — ripping apart.”

Following the shooting, Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement that “Michiganders across the state are devastated.”

“MSU’s campus is a special place for so many, and it is now the site of another senseless act of gun violence. Parents across Michigan were on pins and needles calling their kids to check in on them and tell them they love them,” she continued.

Whitmer called the shooting “a uniquely American problem.”

“Too many of us scan rooms for exits when we enter them. We plan who that last text or call would go to. We should not, we cannot, accept living like this,” the governor added.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin said that she is devastated to once again address a mass shooting at a school in her district, after four students were shot and killed and six others were injured when a gunman opened fire in a high school classroom in Oxford, Michigan, in 2021.

“As a representative of Oxford, Michigan, I cannot believe that I’m here again doing this 15 months later,” Slotkin said during a news conference Tuesday. “And I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools.”

She added that, “The most haunting picture of last night was watching the cameras pan through the crowds and seeing a young person wearing an ‘Oxford Strong’ sweatshirt. The sweatshirts that were handed out after those kids lived through a school shooting 15-months ago.”

“We have children in Michigan who are living through their second school shooting in under a year and a half. If this is not a wake-up call to do something I don’t know what is,” Slotkin continued.

Monday night’s shooting took place a day before the five-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting, where a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 14 students and three educators.

Ahead of Tuesday’s remarks, the president acknowledged the anniversary and announced $231 million in Justice Department funding “to create and implement crisis intervention projects like ‘red flag’ programs, mental health and substance use treatment courts, and veterans’ treatment courts,” which he wrote “will reduce gun violence and save lives.”

In the statement announcing the funding, Biden underscored that “we have more work to do,” calling on Congress “to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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CNN’s Michelle Watson and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.

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