President Biden barely referenced the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb during a holiday speech on the White House lawn — while instead offering words of comfort for people upset about the recent Supreme Court ruling that rescinded federal abortion rights.

“Y’all heard what happened today,” was Biden’s only direct reference to the Highland Park, Ill., massacre that left at least six people dead and 24 injured.

American presidents typically are expected to offer words of comfort during times of tragedy and Biden has done so during past shootings, such as after the May massacre of 21 people at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

It’s unclear why Biden didn’t more fully address the shooting, which happened hours earlier, as police pursue 22-year-old suspect Robert E. Crimo III.

The relative lack of comment came despite the fact that Biden’s speech was delayed due to the shooting.

In an afternoon written statement, Biden called the massacre “senseless.”

A stretcher is seen after a mass shooting at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade in downtown Highland Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb, Monday, July 4, 2022.
At least six people were killed and 24 injured after a gunman opened fire during a holiday parade.
AP/Nam Y. Huh

Biden’s single oral reference to the shooting on the White House lawn came as he mentioned a gun policy bill that he signed last month following high-profile mass shootings in May. The bill aims to create enhanced background checks for young adults aged 18-21, among other reforms.

“Before I left for Europe, I signed a law, the first real gun safety law in 30 years. And things will get better still, but not without more hard work together. Y’all heard what happened, y’all heard what happened today,” Biden said.

Biden then returned to his speech’s theme about the importance of democracy and the gradual evolution of “the cause of freedom and justice and equality.”

By contrast, Biden gave relatively robust commentary on the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling to rescind federal abortion rights.

Before he mentioned the Highland Park shooting, Biden offered consoling words to people upset about the ruling last month by the Supreme Court that ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights and returned the matter to the states.

“The Fourth of July comes at a critical moment. Our economy is growing, but not without pain. Liberty is under assault both here and abroad,” Biden said.

“In recent days, there has been reason to think that this country is moving backward, that freedom is being reduced, that rights we assumed were protected are no longer — a reminder that we remain in an ongoing battle for the soul of America as we have for over 200 years,” we went on. “I know it can be exhausting and unsettling. But tonight, I want you to know we’re going to get through all of this.”

Biden added: “For all that we have faced, we are going to get through this and look how far we’ve come. We are reclaiming our way of life in a pandemic, vaccines are nearly available to every American, restrictions lifted, the Fourth of July together again at the White House. And for all the challenges, America is the strongest economy in the world, more people working and starting businesses, more young people graduating from high school and college than ever before.”


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