NASA chief Bill Nelson urges action after 'heavy weight' of recent mass shootings

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson added his voice Wednesday (May 25) to the chorus urging action to prevent mass shootings.

In a Twitter thread, the former U.S. Senator (D-Fla.) and one-time space shuttle astronaut said he has been feeling a "heavy weight" following the news that at least 19 children and two adults died in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday (May 24).

Referring to recent similar mass deaths by gun violence, Nelson said Americans have been murdered "while shopping at a Buffalo supermarket, while attending a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods [California], and yesterday at an elementary school in Uvalde."

Last week, following the racially motivated Buffalo murders, which targeted Black Americans, U.S. President Joe Biden told mourners that "white supremacy will not have the last word," according to MSNBC

Related: 'We stand with you,' NASA's Perseverance rover team tells people of Boulder after mass shooting

"In each event, lives were tragically taken in the course of everyday living ... we have seen far too much tragedy," Nelson wrote in his thread about the shootings.

Nelson noted that Tuesday also marked the two-year anniversary of George Floyd's death. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed in police custody on May 25, 2020 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes, The Guardian wrote in 2021 after the officer was convicted of murder.

"We must act — for accountability, for justice. For change, for progress. For our children and our fellow Americans. It’s past time to say enough of the senseless killings," Nelson wrote.

While Nelson cited no statistics in his discussion, Pew Research has found that nearly 80 percent of U.S. murders are committed using a firearm.

Nelson is not the only person in the space community pushing for action against gun violence in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.

For example, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk just endorsed tighter background checks on guy buyers. And former astronaut and current U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) issued a tweet thread Tuesday that stressed that the Uvalde shooting "demands a response." Kelly's wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), retired from politics after being shot in the head in 2011 while meeting with constituents.

Numerous media sources have pointed to the divide between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to implementing gun control in Congress. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for example, is still expected to attend the National Rifle Association's annual meeting on Friday (May 27) to speak, following through on a booking made long before the Texas school shooting.

In an interview that aired on NBC late Tuesday, however, Cruz called the shooting "yet another unspeakable crime."

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: