As details of the mass shooting that took place at a Texas primary school trickled in late on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden addressed the nation and spoke directly to Congress as well as weapons manufacturers.
“As a nation, we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Mr Biden asked in a White House address, with first lady Jill Biden by his side.
The shooting occurred only days after Mr Biden visited Buffalo, New York where a white supremacist opened fire in grocery store and killed 10 people.
On Tuesday, an 18-year-old entered the Uvalde, Texas school and killed at least 19 children and two adults.
Sgt Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the shooter, dressed in body armour, crashed his vehicle near the school, was engaged by law enforcement, “but made his way into the school anyway and went classroom to classroom shooting”.
“I am sick and tired we have to act,” said Mr Biden.
“And don't tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. I spent my career as a senator and a vice president working to pass common sense gun laws.
"When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled.”
Mr Biden said that the majority of Americans support common sense gun laws and that the US is the only place in the world where these types of tragedies occur.
“Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” Mr Biden asked.
"It's time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen of this country. We have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: it's time to act. "
The US is the most heavily armed society in the world, figures compiled by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, a research group, show.
Small, rural states where gun ownership is widespread have a disproportionate influence in the US Senate, where a super-majority of 60 votes is needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.
The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest at a US primary school since that at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago, where 26 people died.
Mr Biden ordered the flags at the White House and at US federal and public buildings to be flown at half-staff until sunset on May 28.
The shooting also comes days before Texas Governor Jim Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz and former president Donald Trump are scheduled to speak at a National Rifle Association conference in Houston.