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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Debate over guns unfolds in Uvalde, a rural Texas town in mourning

UVALDE, Texas — Living in a rural Texas town famous for hunting white-tailed deer, where rifles are a regular prize at school raffles, Desira Garza never gave much thought to gun laws. That changed after her 10-year-old niece, Amery Jo, was fatally shot inside Rob’s Elementary School.

“You can’t buy a beer, and still you can buy an AR-15,” Garza said of the 18-year-old gunman, who officials say legally carries two semi-automatic rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The gunpowder was bought before killing 19. children and two teachers. “It’s quite easy.”

But inside another house in Uvalde, Amerie Jo’s father, Alfred Garza III, had a completely different approach. After his daughter was murdered, he said he was now considering buying a holster to strap on a handgun he had left in his house or truck.

“It’s not a bad idea to take it upon yourself after all this,” he said.

An agony soul-searching over Texas’ gun culture and permissive gun laws is unfolding in the community at the latest to be shattered by a shooter’s stampede.

Uvalde, a large Mexican-American city of 15,200 near the southern border, is a very different place from Parkland, Florida, or Newtown, Connecticut, which became the center of grassroots gun control activism after the school shootings there.

Gun ownership is threaded to life here in a county that has elected conservative Democrats and twice supported former President Donald Trump. Many relatives of the victims count themselves among the more than 1 million gun owners in Texas. Some grew up in hunting and shooting. Others say they have multiple guns for protection.

In Uvalde, the debate has not taken place through protests and marches, as happened after Parkland, but in quiet discussions exposing the cracks inside people’s living rooms and in some cases within bereaved families. The grandfather of a boy killed Tuesday said he always keeps a gun under the seat of his truck to protect his family; The boy’s grandmother now wants to limit gun access.

Governor Greg Abbott, who last year signed legislation making Texas a “Second Amendment sanctuary” from federal gun laws, and other Republicans have rejected calls to strengthen access to guns in the wake of the Uvalde shootings. He has instead called for reforms in school safety and mental health counseling.

But opinion polls and interviews with victims’ families and Uvalde residents show that many Texans are more open to gun control measures than their Republican leaders and age to expand background checks and purchase assault-style rifles. Will support to increase the requirement from 18 to 21.

Trey Laborde, a local rancher, brought his gun to a fundraiser for relatives of the victims of the shooting, where he was helping smoke the meat. Laborde said he despises President Joe Biden, thinks the 2020 election was stolen and backtracked on calls to take away people’s guns. He believes that “all these teachers should be armed.”

But he also wants more limits on gun access.

“I don’t think anyone should be able to buy a gun until they are 25,” Laborde said. He was recently given an assault rifle by his father-in-law as a gift, but he said, “I don’t think they should be sold.” “Nobody hunts with these types of rifles,” he said.

Public support for some gun control measures has remained stagnant in recent years of opinion polls since a Walmart in El Paso in Texas and fatal mass shootings on the streets of Odessa.

In a February survey by the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project, 43% of Texans said they support strict gun laws, while only 16% want looser rules. In earlier elections, the majority supported universal background checks and were against allowing gun owners to carry handguns in public without a license or training; 71% of Texans supported background checks on all gun purchases, according to a 2021 University of Texas/Texas Politics Project survey. Three hundred miles from Uvalde, Texas, crude divisions over gun rights were on fiery display as hundreds on Friday. Gun control supporters protest outside an annual National Rifle Association convention in Houston. Inside, Trump and others blamed “evil” and a range of social evils for the attacks, but not easy access to guns.

Abbott withdrew from speaking in person at the conference and traveled to Uvalde instead, amid growing anger over revelations that the police response to confront and kill the gunman was delayed.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Antonio, whose territory includes Uvalde, said the NRA should have canceled its meeting in Houston. “The country is in mourning, but they are not,” Archbishop Gustavo García-Silar said in an interview, calling the embrace of guns “the culture of death among us”.

Vincent Salazar, 66, whose granddaughter Laila Uvalde was killed in the attack, said he had kept guns in his home for 30 years for security. But when he saddened the girl who won three blue ribbons at Rob Elementary’s Field Day, he said he wanted MPs to sell long guns like the black AR-15-style rifle used in his granddaughter’s murder. At least increase the age.

“This freedom to carry, what did it do?” Salazar asked. “It hit.” Several parents and relatives of Uvalde’s victims said they want Texas politicians to follow the lead of six states that raised the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. But gun-rights supporters are challenging those laws in court and recently won a legal victory after an appeals court struck down California’s ban on selling semi-automatic guns to young adults.

Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jacqueline was killed inside Rob Elementary, holds a gun and fully supports the Second Amendment, firing semi-automatic rifles when he was 18 years old when he enlisted in the US Army. learned to do But he said the murder of Jacqueline and several of her fourth-grade friends should force politicians to toughen gun measures.

He said, ‘There should be many strict laws. “Buying a weapon at the age of 18 – it’s ridiculous.”

Even as many in Uvalde have said they want to focus their attention on the victims, conversations about guns are echoing across the city. Kendall White, who guides groups on hunting trips, helped cook at Friday’s barbecue fundraiser for relatives of the victims of the attack.

White said he would never give up his right to “legally go out and kill an animal and bring his children home”. He emphasized the fact that his daughter shot her first white-tailed deer when she was 3 years old.

“She was sitting on my lap,” she said.

White believes that people are the problem – not the guns. “Guns don’t kill anyone, period,” he said. “You’ve got to have someone pull the trigger.”

But White, 45, has been weighed down in a recent mass shooting, and the shooting in his hometown left him devastated.

He said that he wants some things to change.

“He should never have got that gun,” White said, referring to the gunman. “We should raise the age limit. We should do stronger background checks.” He said, there is “some compromise” on gun laws. Ricardo Garcia was working a shift as a groundkeeper at Uvalde Memorial Hospital on Tuesday when Rob Elementary’s first The students were taken inside the emergency room, followed by a group of parents. As the hours passed, he said, the hospital began notifying families that their children had died.

Moms shouted the word “no” over and over again. The father beat him on the walls of the hospital.

Garcia said he has never owned a gun and now believes the only way to solve gun violence in America is for everyone other than law enforcement to ban them.

“They have to stop selling guns,” he said. “The governor has to do something about it.”

A child who came in with blood on the shirt told his parents that he was right next to the gunman as he was shooting, and that the boy could no longer hear with one ear.

“He had an AR-15, man, inside the classroom,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be too noisy for those kids.”

The sorrow that loomed through the small, greenhouse where Elijah Torres once nursed her goldfish and practiced her softball swing at night was still raw as relatives grappled with her murder.

An uncle, Leo Flores, said that someday, another gunman would attack another school. He said the best hope to prevent further bloodshed was to arm and prepare teachers—a view shared by many conservative Texas politicians and residents.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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