Uvalde parents confront Governor Abbott over Texas gun law

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott may have woken up Saturday to the sound of parents shouting the names of their children killed in the shooting at a school in Uvalde on May 24.

Relatives of about a dozen of the students and teachers who died in the attack gathered in front of the governor’s mansion in downtown Austin around 5:15 a.m., blaring recordings of their children laughing and playing, then pausing to shout their names. . Several parents had poster-sized portraits of their loved ones and yelled at Abbott to get out.

Parents of children killed in the shooting at a school in Uvalde on May 24 stand in front of the governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, August 27.

“If we can’t sleep, neither can you!” cried a parent.

“These are our children’s voices!” Brett Cross, whose son Uziyah died in the shooting, screamed into a megaphone. “This is all we have left, because you don’t care!”

The protest is part of increased pressure from parents and the gun reform group March for Our Lives to get Abbott to convene a special session of the state legislature to raise the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

“Our kids go back to school and ask, ‘Am I next?'” Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jackie died in the Uvalde shooting, told the crowd.

Rhonda Hart, whose daughter Kimberly died in a 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School, contrasted Texans’ easy access to powerful guns with the strict rules she had to follow in the military.

“I had three weeks of training before I was allowed to work” [an] M16,” she said, referring to the military firearm.

Several speakers tearfully told stories of relatives who died in the shooting on May 24.

“My sister leaves behind her only child, who has to go on without her,” says Maggie Mireles Thomas, referring to teacher Eva Mireles. “Eve was strong. She could have taken [the shooter] ― but not with this weapon.”

Gun reform proponents generally want to see more aggressive restrictions on assault rifles.

Raising the minimum purchase age would be a smaller and politically feasible step.

It is a legal change that could have made a big difference in Uvalde. In that case, the shooter legally purchased the assault rifle used in the assault shortly after his 18th birthday.

“The age should be raised to 21,” Cross told Europe Times News. “Our children would still be alive.”

“I know firsthand the damage they can do,” Rodriguez said. “Is it absolutely necessary for an 18-year-old child to possess a weapon of war? An 18-year-old is just a child.”

Abbott, an avid firearms promoter, has shown little interest in the proposal so far. Asked whether the governor is in favor of raising the minimum age for purchase, a spokesperson declined to answer, pointing instead to Abbott’s efforts to promote school safety and mental health.

“As Governor Abbott has said from day one, all options remain on the table as he continues to work with state and local leaders to prevent future tragedies and use all available resources to support the Uvalde community as they heal,” wrote press secretary Renae Eze in an email. “More announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks as the legislator deliberates on the proposed solutions.”

However, several parents said their private conversations with Abbott went poorly earlier this month, with the governor flatly dismissing their questions about raising the age to buy semi-automatic rifles.

Protesters gather outside the Texas capital in Austin to demand that Governor Greg Abbott call a special session to raise the age for buying a semi-automatic rifle to 21.
Protesters gather outside the Texas capital in Austin to demand that Governor Greg Abbott call a special session to raise the age for buying a semi-automatic rifle to 21.

This lack of interest left a bad impression on several parents. One of them regretted meeting him and said her daughter never liked him.

“We asked him if he could name a victim, and he said no,” Cross told Europe Times News. ‘He couldn’t name any. He said, ‘Not out of my head.’”

The Texas legislature meets for a few months every two years. The state is only considering new laws in response to events such as the Uvalde shooting if the governor calls a special session.

Even if Abbott called one, the proposal to raise the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles would head down an uncertain path. Both houses of the legislature are controlled by Republicans. In recent years, the party has relaxed gun regulations, with a 2015 law allowing the concealed carrying of handguns on college campuses and a 2021 law allowing people to carry the guns without a license.

But Uvalde’s parents draw hope from the success of gun-reform advocates in Florida. In 2018, the then government. Rick Scott, also a Republican who presides over a GOP-dominated legislature, signed a reform bill that raised the legal age to buy firearms to 21 in response to the shooting at a Parkland school.

Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi died in the Uvalde shooting, said she hopes Abbott will do the same.

“My main goal is to be heard,” said Rubio. “And if he doesn’t deliver, we’re going to vote him out.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Brett Cross’s child as “Uri.” His name is Uziyah, or ‘Uzi’.

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