Biden travels to Buffalo to meet with families of victims of deadly shooting

Washington — President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden are visiting Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday to pay respects to the 10 people who were killed in a mass shooting at a supermarket and offer condolences to the families of the victims of the racially motivated massacre.

Mr. Biden will be joined on the trip to Buffalo by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democratic senators from New York. He is also poised to deliver remarks, during which he will “call this despicable act for what it is: terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of our nation,” according to a White House official.

The president is also expected to use his speech to urge Americans “to give hate no safe harbor, and to reject the lies of racial animus that radicalize, divide us, and led to the act of racist violence we saw on Saturday that took the lives of 10 of our countrymen,” the official previewed.

Police believe 18-year-old Payton Gendron drove more than 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York, to the Tops Family Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo with the intent of killing as many African American people as he could. Wearing military-style camouflage and protective gear, and armed with a semi-automatic rifle, officials say he killed 10 people in the attack Saturday and wounded three more. Eleven of the 13 victims were Black.

The suspected shooter is believed to have written and posted a lengthy hate-filled screed online, in which he espoused white supremacist views and referenced the so-called “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which says nonwhite people are “replacing” the White population and diminishing their influence in a plot led by powerful elites.

Police said the alleged gunman scouted out the supermarket in early March and visited it the day before the rampage. 

Democrats have said the racially motivated shooting highlighted how extremist views have migrated into the mainstream, which Schumer attributed to Fox News and host Tucker Carlson.

“Every single media pundit, every single elected politician — and indeed every single voice of influence in this country — should band together to stomp views like replacement theory out of existence,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor on Monday. “These views should have no place in American society and certainly no place in the segments of our most-watched news channels.”

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming criticized House Republican leadership on Monday, saying in a tweet it has “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism.”

“History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them,” she said.

In addition to highlighting the racist motivations behind the attack, Mr. Biden is also expected to push Congress to take action to pass more stringent gun laws, specifically to “keep weapons of war off our streets, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who have a serious mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others.”

It’s unlikely, though, that gun control legislation will clear the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats. Two House-passed bills that expand background checks have stalled in the Senate, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, told reporters that while members would like to pass “basic” measures Republicans agree with, Democrats “can’t get any support” from GOP senators.

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