AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Uvalde families called Tuesday for a new urgency for stricter gun laws in the wake of a series of mass shootings in California, including the nation’s deadliest act of gun violence since last year’s attack on an elementary school. from Texas.
“People are dying every day, this shouldn’t be happening,” said Veronica Mata, whose 10-year-old daughter, Tess, was among those killed in the May attack at Robb Elementary School.
The three shootings in California, which have killed at least 24 people since last week, occurred as the Texas Legislature returns to work for the first time since the Uvalde massacre. Democrats have tabled dozens of bills that would tighten Texas gun laws, but most stand little chance of making headway against a dominant Republican majority.
Still, several parents and relatives of the 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalde traveled more than three hours Tuesday to renew their calls inside the Texas Capitol. Some families have said that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who made no mention of the Uvalde shooting as he was sworn in for a third term during his inaugural address last week, told them privately that he does not support tougher restrictions.
No Republican lawmakers joined Democrats who supported the families of the victims and gun control advocates at a news conference outside the Senate. Some Republican senators walked by on their way out of the chamber.
Proposals sought by Uvalde’s parents include raising the age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles like the one used in the May attack from 18 to 21, the state’s current age limit for purchasing a firearm. Another would open avenues for families to sue officers who fail to do their duty. An investigative report by state lawmakers last summer found nearly 400 officers waited in a hallway and outside for more than an hour to storm the classroom where the shooter was shooting.
The slain Uvalde teacher, Irma Garcia, was shot 11 times from the head to the legs with an AR-15-style rifle, said her sister, Marisol Lozano. She recalled seeing her sister’s face and hands reconstructed for her funeral to hide the gunshot wounds. Garcia’s husband, Joe Garcia, died of a heart attack shortly after the shooting.
“I wonder if 21 abortions had been performed in those classrooms, if our elected officials would step in and do the right thing.” Lozano said, referencing restrictions state lawmakers have enacted over the years, including one of the strictest abortion bans in the US.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, said earlier this month that he knew “difficult discussions” were ahead over gun legislation. But he later told reporters that he didn’t think the bills would find support in the state’s Republican-controlled chamber.
Javier Cazares, the father of Uvalde victim Jacklyn Cazares, 9, said Phelan privately told the families that he and his constituents did not support the stricter gun laws the families supported.
“Our blood boils, because what can you do?” Cazares, speaking in Spanish, to the Associated Press.
More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings
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