Nineteen children and two adults were killed yesterday when an 18-year-old shooter opened fire at a Texas elementary school. Texas officials say, Salvador Romas, a local area high school student shot his grandmother before heading to Robb Elementary School killing 21 and injuring countless others before he was killed by law enforcement. The grandmother is still in critical condition.
Robb Elementary School is located in Uvalde, Texas about 75 miles from San Antonio, and is a predominately Hispanic community. The small community of 16,000 was left grief-stricken as news of the tragedy unfolded. Law enforcement officials say, Romas was a Uvalde resident and attended the local high school. Wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15 rifle, he began shooting inside the school yesterday afternoon. Robb Elementary school holds roughly around 600 students with most of the victims between ages 7-10.
When news of an active shooter situation was released, parents rushed to the school to find their children. Many parents and family members were at the school earlier for an end-of-the-year awards ceremony but returned to learn their children were dead or injured. Distraught parents waited late into the evening waiting for word about their missing children and provided DNA to match victims with their families because some of the children were unrecognizable after being shot with an AR-15 assault rifle.
In a televised address to the country, President Biden said, “Tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them. Give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.”
“I had hoped when I became president, I would not have to do this — again,” the president said. “Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened — see their friends die, as if they’re in a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”
Politicians and community leaders offered their condolences to the families and residents of Uvalde. “What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, said on Twitter, “My heart breaks for the city of Uvalde. Pray for our families.” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement Tuesday he was “lifting up in prayer the entire Uvalde community during this devastating time.”
GUNS OVER PEOPLE
While GOP political leaders offered plenty of “thoughts and prayers”, they remained committed to protecting the rights of gun owners and receiving millions of dollars from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and said passing more gun laws won’t prevent more violent acts or mass shootings.
“I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time,” Texas AG Ken Paxton
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
During his address, President Biden pushed for gun reform saying, “We as a nation have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” A sentiment echoed by many exhausted and outraged at the GOP’s willingness to restrict other civil liberties and rights but who do nothing to protect human life outside of the womb.
Illinois political leaders also expressed sadness and outrage and called on federal legislation to address this issue.
“With a Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic President, we cannot allow the GOP to control our policy priorities. It has been only ten days since the white supremacist attack in Buffalo that left ten Black people dead. This gun violence epidemic is not going to wait for us to do something about it. The time to act is now.”-Kina Collins (D) IL-07 Candidate
My heart is breaking for the community of Uvalde. These victims and their families – just like the hundreds and hundreds before them – deserve our thoughts and prayers. They also deserve action. This all starts at the ballot box. We must vote for Congresspeople that will pass common-sense gun laws, like banning assault weapons and ghost guns and restoring safety to our country. Enough.” — Ald. Pat Dowell, (D) IL-01 candidate
“My family and I are sending prayers to the entire Uvalde community and the families that sent their child to school today unaware that they would not be coming home. 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.” -Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Former President Barack Obama also weighed in on the need for common-sense gun reform saying on Twitter, “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.”
In Texas currently, it is easier to buy a gun than it is to buy liquor, get an abortion or read the 1619 project by Nikole Hannah Jones. It is alleged that the shooter bought the assault rifle after his 18th birthday. Texas currently has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country with gun owners not being required to have a permit to carry a weapon. With the mass shooting in Uvalde, eight mass shootings have occurred in Texas in the last 13 years according to a report.
NO TIME TO GRIEVE
This latest mass shooting comes as victims of last week’s racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo are still being buried. According to Gun Violence Archive (GVA), there have been 212 mass shootings in 2022 averaging one per day. From elders in grocery stores, worshippers in their houses of faith, and children attending school, mass shootings are becoming more common with America having more than anywhere else in the world.
THE INCREASED DEBATE ON GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
According to recent polls, 70% of Americans regardless of political affiliation favor gun control legislation in some form. After each mass shooting, politicians, community leaders, and advocates reiterate the need for common-sense gun control laws, but nothing seems to get done due to political divisiveness and the lobbyists for the NRA who hold many members of Congress in their pockets with political contributions.
While protecting the second amendment that gives Americans the right to bear arms, gun control advocates say legislation can be passed to ensure mass shootings like the ones in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde don’t happen. They propose stronger criminal and mental background checks and a ban on military-style automatic and semi-automatic handguns and armor-piercing bullets and minimum age requirements.
Most gun control legislation dies in the Senate because of the filibuster. When asked by a reporter about passing “common sense” gun legislation, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) said, he would do “anything I can” to help pass “common sense” legislation to address gun violence.
“It makes no sense at all why we can’t do common sense things and try to prevent some of this from happening. It’s all just unbelievable how we’ve gotten as a society that someone could be that deranged and this sick,” Manchin said. However, when pressed on cutting the filibuster to achieve that goal, Manchin said he would oppose
“The filibuster is the only thing that prevents us from total insanity. You would think there would be enough common sense” in the Senate to pass gun control legislation without nuking the filibuster”.
The lack of gun control legislation passed by the Senate suggests “common sense” is lacking among some congressional leaders.