Biden glosses over Highland Park shooting in July 4 speech, talks abortion instead

President Biden barely referenced the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago suburb in his 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White House lawn — while instead offering words of comfort for people upset about the recent Supreme Court ruling that rescinded federal abortion rights.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 are expected to offer words of comfort in times of tragedy and Biden has done so after past shootings, such as after the May 24 murder 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 pursued 22-year-old suspect Robert E. Crimo III.

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

In an afternoon written statement, Biden called the shooting “senseless” — before stoking anger on social media with his sparing live remarks.

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 spoke about the importance of voting, which some listeners deemed an aloof thing to say after innocent people were randomly murdered.

“Each day we are reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy, nothing guaranteed about our way of life. You have to fight for it, defend it and earn it by voting,” Biden said just after noting the shooting.

Although it was unclear if Biden meant to say that the shooting might have been prevented with better voting habits, some people thought so.

One person captioned a video of Biden’s remark, “A shooting? Damn, that’s crazy. Y’all should have voted harder.”

Another wrote, “LMAOOOOO yea the young people gonna make sure he doesn’t run in 2024. ‘Earn it by voting’ Noooooo heeeee didn’t!!!”

Yet another added, “We already voted, and watching the president do nothing but campaign more shows what my vote is worth.”

By contrast, Biden gave relatively robust commentary on the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling to rescind federal abortion rights, including consoling words to people upset about the decision.

“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,” he 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 has the strongest economy in the world.”

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