Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise stop to the scene of Monday’s Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois after delivering remarks in Chicago Tuesday calling for an assault weapons ban.
Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff greeted local officials nearby where a shooter killed seven people who were attending the Chicago suburb’s Fourth of July parade.
‘We’re here for you and we stand with you,’ Harris told police and other officials gathered near the crime scene. ‘And of course as we always say – because it is true – our prayers are with you.’
Strollers, children’s bikes and other toys were still scattered along the brick sidewalk, where they were left Monday when the gunman started shooting.
‘There’s a lot of healing that’s going to have to happen that is both physical and emotional,’ the vice president continued. ‘There is no question that this experience is going to linger in terms of the trauma – so I’d like to urge all the families and all of the individuals to seek the support that you so rightly deserve.’
Later Highland Park’s Mayor Nancy Rotering said on CNN that she was appreciative of Harris’ message to first responders because the scene was ‘unbelievably gruesome.’
Turning to policy, Harris said, ‘We’ve gotta be smarter as a country in terms of who has access to what and, in particular, assault weapons. And we’ve got to take this stuff seriously, as seriously as you are because you’ve been forced to have to take it seriously.’
‘The whole nation should understand and have a level of empathy and understand that this could happen anywhere – in any peace-loving community,’ she added. ‘And we should stand together and speak out about why it’s got to stop.’
Harris had just spoken at the National Education Association’s annual meeting in Chicago where she addressed the July 4 shooting, but also remarked that ‘our nation is still mourning the loss of those 19 babies and their two teachers in Uvalde.’
‘This massacre was the most recent reminder – in Uvalde – of the risks that our children and our educators face every day,’ she told the teachers union membership.
‘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, earning applause from those in the room.
Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise stop to the scene of Monday’s Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff arrive to visit the July 4 parade shooting site in Highland Park, Illinois Tuesday evening
Vice President Kamala Harris (right) is greeted by Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering (left) during a surprise stop Tuesday night to the scene of Monday’s Fourth of July parade shooting
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks to Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering as she meets police officers in Highland Park, Illinois
Vice President Kamala Harris shakes the hand of police officers near the site where a gunman murdered seven who were gathered for the Chicago suburb’s Fourth of July parade
Vice President Kamala Harris addresses the press Tuesday night in Highland Park, Illinois
She called the Highland Park parade shooting a ‘tragedy.’
‘As we all know, yesterday 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. Children, parents, grandparents – victims to a senseless act of gun violence,’ Harris said.
She said that she and Emhoff were mourning the dead and praying for the surviving.
‘And we all grieve, I know, for the lives that are forever changed in that community, including, of course, the students and the teachers of that community who have suffered great loss,’ Harris said.
‘And I don’t need to tell NEA: We need to end this horror. We need to stop this violence,’ she continued. ‘And we must protect our communities from the terror of gun violence.’
‘You know, I’ve said it before: Enough is enough,’ the vice president added.
She pointed to the recent bipartisan gun control bill – but said it didn’t go far enough, calling for the assault weapons ban to be reinstated.
‘You know, I’ll talk in a minute about how you as educators teach the children so much. And you teach the children, among many things, reason,’ Harris said.
‘So, let’s talk about what an assault weapon is designed to do,’ she continued. ‘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,’ she said. ‘We need reasonable gun safety laws!’ she said to yells and applause from those in the room.
Harris had just spoke at the National Education Association’s annual meeting in Chicago where she addressed the July 4 shooting, while remarking that ‘our nation is still mourning the loss of those 19 babies and their two teachers in Uvalde’
An attendee at the National Education Association 2022 Annual Meeting in Chicago holds up a sign supporting President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday
Vice President Kamala Harris (center right) and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (right) meet Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (center left) and Illinois Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (left) on the tarmac of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Tuesday
Harris also received cheers when she name-dropped First Lady Jill Biden, a college professor who’s an NEA member.
‘I have watched her go from the classroom directly to events at the White House or across the country and around the world, grading papers in between,’ Harris said. ‘So, like you, she is a remarkable educator who inspires us all.’
Harris got even more political by characterizing many Republican leaders as ‘extremists,’ blasting them for refusing to boost teacher pay, ban assault rifles and for going after Roe v. Wade.
‘While you work hard to teach the principles of liberty and freedom in your classroom, these so-called “leaders” are taking freedoms away: freedom away from women and the freedom to make decisions over their own bodies, freedom away from a kindergarten-to-third-grade teacher in Florida to love openly and with pride; and away from every American as they intentionally try to make it more difficult for folks to vote,’ Harris said.
She said the ‘extremist so-called “leaders” need to attend a civics lesson.’
‘I actually think it would benefit us all if they sat in your classroom for a few days to remember how a democracy works,’ Harris said.
She echoed what President Joe Biden said Monday to mark the Fourth of July – that sometimes a nation goes backward to go forward again.
‘As educators, you know, we all know that history has never been an unbroken line toward progress; that even when we have advances, there will be setbacks. In certain times, those setbacks being more drastic than in others,’ she said. ‘This is one of those moments, but we will not be deterred.’