CHICAGO - Authorities say the death toll is expected to rise after a teen gunman shot and killed 19 elementary school students and two adults Tuesday afternoon in Uvalde, Texas.
Illinois politicians are reacting to the news, as Democratic lawmakers are calling for immediate action and gun control measures.
"As a nation, we simply cannot allow this to continue. Every single day, children and young people are losing their lives to people who do not value the sanctity of life and take advantage of the unabated presence of firearms in our communities. Now more than ever, we must push our legislators to pass sweeping and effective gun control measures. Our children’s lives depend on it," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin also weighed in.
"I implore – beg – my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in finally making changes to our gun laws to help prevent Americans from re-living this gun tragedy far too often. We cannot continue to sit on our hands and allow innocent lives to be lost. Congress must act."
Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the shooting an "unspeakable crime," saying the nation needs to go after criminals who illegally buy firearms. He also advocated for more armed security on school campuses.
Vice President Kamala Harris is demanding action from the nation's leaders.
"Our hearts keep getting broken," Harris said. "Enough is enough as a nation, we have to have the courage to take action."
Authorities still don't know a motive for the shooting, or how the gunman obtained firearms.
Illinois US Senator Tammy Duckworth is calling for the suspension of the Senate's filibuster rule to pass "commonsense gun safety reforms."
"What happened in Texas today is every parent's nightmare. I’m heartbroken for these families and angry as hell at Republicans’ shameless inaction to save the lives of innocent children. We know how to stop these attacks from happening as often as they do. We know there will be another and another and another attack in the weeks and months ahead if we do nothing. And we know who is preventing action. The Senate should immediately—at a 50-vote threshold—vote on commonsense gun safety reforms that the American people have demanded for too long. For every victim of this tragedy and every tragedy before it, enough must be enough."
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement.
"It is heartwrenching and enraging to hear the news of the elementary students and their teacher gunned down in Texas. My prayers are with their families, and my resolve is with all Americans who are working to end senseless gun violence wherever it occurs."
Former President Barack Obama released a statement Tuesday night.
"Michelle and I grieve with the families in Uvalde, who are experiencing pain no one should have to bear. We’re also angry for them. Nearly ten years after Sandy Hook—and ten days after Buffalo—our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies. It’s long past time for action, any kind of action. And it’s another tragedy—a quieter but no less tragic one—for families to wait another day. May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds."
The annual National Rifle Association Convention takes place Friday in Houston. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to speak.