July 5, 2022 Highland Park, Illinois, parade shooting news

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Education Association annual meeting in Chicago on July 5. (Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking in Chicago, just miles from Highland Park, Vice President Kamala Harris pointedly told Congress to “have the courage” to act on an assault weapon ban and to “stop protecting” gun manufacturers. 

“Yesterday, it should have been a day to come together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s independence and instead, that community suffered a violent tragedy,” Harris said in remarks to the National Education Association on Tuesday. 

“We need to stop this violence,” she said. 

“You know, I’ve said it before. Enough is enough!,” she said, her voice rising to applause from the group. “I mean, here we are, our nation is still mourning the loss of those 19 babies and their two teachers in Uvalde.”

She called the Uvalde shooting a “massacre” that served as “the most recent reminder in evolving of the risks that our children and our educators face every day.”

“Teachers should not have to practice barricading a classroom. Teachers should not have to know how to treat a gunshot wound. And teachers should not be told that lives would have been saved if only you had a gun,” Harris said. 

Last month, President Biden signed into law a bipartisan gun safety measure that Harris called “progress,” but she said the country still has “to do more.” 

“Congress needs to have the courage to act and renew the assault weapons ban,” Harris said. “An assault weapon is designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly. There is no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws.” 

She added that Congress needs to stop “protecting those gun manufacturers with the liability shield.” 

“We cannot give up this fight. We will not tire. Because I know who you are,” she told the crowd. “That is just not in our nature.” 

Harris’ comments came after Biden offered a fairly muted response to the shooting during the White House Independence Day celebration.

“You all heard what happened today. But each day, we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy, nothing guaranteed about our way of life,” he said during an initial appearance at the BBQ.

Later, Biden held a moment of silence for the victims during the entertainment portion of the event. 

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Biden’s brief comments and her characterization that he had spoken “forcefully.” She said there had been “many times the President has spoken forcefully, urgently about a moment that that currently exists in our country, which is a gun violence epidemic.” 

“To say that this President has not shown urgency, it’s just false,” she added.