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How world leaders are reacting to the Uvalde school shooting

A man brings flowers to Robb Elementary School on Wednesday in Uvalde, Texas.
Jordan Vonderhaar
/
Getty Images
A man brings flowers to Robb Elementary School on Wednesday in Uvalde, Texas.

Officials around the world are responding to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the deadliest such incident to take place in the U.S. in nearly a decade.

In emotional remarks late Tuesday, President Biden characterized it as a uniquely American tragedy.

"They have mental health problems, they have domestic disputes in other countries," he said. "They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why?"

He then called on lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby.

That same night, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the shooting, as both a politician and a mother, in an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After two consecutive mosque shootings in 2019, New Zealand collected thousands of weapons through a nationwide buyback, and lawmakers voted to ban almost all semi-automatic weapons.

When asked by Colbert how the country was able to take that step, Ardern described New Zealanders as "very pragmatic people."

"When we saw something like that happen, everyone said never again, and so it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that," she said. "Now, we have legitimate needs for guns in our country, for things like pest control and to protect our biodiversity — but you don't need a military-style semi-automatic to do that."

And New Zealand isn't the only country to draw attention to the U.S. stance on gun control. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin expressed condolences for the victims' families, but also called the U.S. government hypocritical for failing to act on gun violence at home while attacking foreign countries over their human rights records.

Condolences also poured in from Ukrainian politicians, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who drew parallels between the loss of young innocent lives in Texas and his own war-torn country.

"The people of Ukraine share the pain of the relatives and friends of the victims and all Americans," he tweeted.

Pope Francis, while offering prayers, also issued a message about gun policies.

Officials from various countries — including Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom — as well as global faith leaders shared messages of shock and sympathy. Read some of their statements below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
Alex Leff is a digital editor on NPR's International Desk, helping oversee coverage from journalists around the world for its growing Internet audience. He was previously a senior editor at GlobalPost and PRI, where he wrote stories and edited the work of international correspondents.