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Uvalde Parents Confront Gov. Greg Abbott Over Texas Gun Law

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AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott can have woken up Saturday to the sound of fogeys screaming the names of their children who died within the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde.

Relations of a couple of dozen of the scholars and teachers who died within the attack gathered in front of the governor’s mansion in downtown Austin at around 5:15 a.m., blaring recordings of their children laughing and playing, then pausing to shout their names. Several parents held poster-sized portraits of their family members and yelled at Abbott to step outside.

Parents of youngsters who died within the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde stand outside the governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Aug. 27.

“If we are able to’t sleep, neither are you able to!” one parent shouted.

“These are the voices of our kids!” Brett Cross, whose son Uziyah died within the shooting, yelled right into a bullhorn. “That is all now we have left since you don’t give a rattling!”

The protest is an element of a bigger push from parents and the gun reform group March for Our Lives to get Abbott to call a special session of the state Legislature to lift the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

Later that morning, tons of of gun reform advocates ― including survivors and relatives of scholars from other mass shootings ― gathered on the steps of the state Capitol, repeatedly chanting “Raise the age!” and “Vote him out!”

“Our youngsters are going back to highschool and asking, ‘Will I be next?’” Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jackie died within the Uvalde shooting, told the gang.

Rhonda Hart, whose daughter Kimberly died in a 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School, contrasted Texans’ easy accessibility to high-powered rifles with the strict rules she needed to follow within the Army.

“I had three weeks of coaching before I used to be allowed to handle [an] M16,” she said, in reference to the military firearm.

Several speakers tearfully told stories about relations who died within the May 24 shooting.

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

Gun reform advocates generally need to see more aggressive restrictions on assault rifles.

Raising the minimum age for purchase can be a smaller and more politically feasible step.

It’s a legal change that might need made a significant difference in Uvalde. In that case, the shooter legally bought the assault rifle that was utilized in the attack shortly after his 18th birthday.

“The age must be raised to 21,” Cross told HuffPost. “Our youngsters would still be alive.”

Allowing people so young to purchase firearms that may quickly kill large numbers of individuals increases the possibilities of such shootings occurring again, said Ana Rodriguez, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Maite.

“I do know firsthand the style of damage that they’ll do,” Rodriguez said. “Is it absolutely vital for an 18-year-old kid to own … a weapon of a war? An 18-year-old is just a child.”

Abbott, an enthusiastic promoter of firearms, has up to now shown little interest within the proposal. Asked whether the governor supports raising the minimum age of purchase, a spokesperson declined to reply, pointing as a substitute to Abbott’s efforts to advertise school safety and mental health.

“As Governor Abbott has said from day one, all options remain on the table as he continues working with state and native leaders to forestall future tragedies and deploy all available resources to support the Uvalde community as they heal,” Press Secretary Renae Eze wrote in an email. “More announcements are expected in the approaching days and weeks because the legislature deliberates proposed solutions.”

Several parents, nevertheless, said their private discussions with Abbott went poorly earlier this month, with the governor flatly dismissing their questions on raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles.

Protesters gather in front of the Texas capitol in Austin to demand that Gov. Greg Abbott call a special session to raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21.Protesters gather in front of the Texas capitol in Austin to demand that Gov. Greg Abbott call a special session to lift the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21.

In accordance with one parent, Abbott said raising the minimum age wouldn’t make a difference, citing the usage of a shotgun by the Santa Fe High School shooter. Several said he immediately steered the conversation toward the topic of mental health.

That disinterest left a nasty impression with several parents. One regretted meeting with him, saying her daughter never liked him.

“We asked him if he could name a victim, and he said no,” Cross told HuffPost. “He couldn’t name one. He said, ‘Not off the highest of my head.’”

The Texas Legislature meets for just a few months every other 12 months. The state only considers latest laws in response to events just like the Uvalde shooting if the governor calls a special session.

Even when Abbott were to call one, the proposal to lift the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles would face an uncertain path. Each houses of the Legislature are controlled by Republicans. Lately, the party has moved to loosen gun regulations, with a 2015 law allowing the concealed carry of handguns on university campuses and a 2021 law allowing people to hold the weapons with no license.

However the Uvalde parents draw hope from gun reform advocates’ success in Florida. In 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican presiding over a GOP-dominated Legislature, signed a reform measure raising the legal age to purchase firearms to 21 in response to the varsity shooting in Parkland.

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

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

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to the kid of Brett Cross as “Uri.” His name is Uziyah, or “Uzi.”

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