As more Americans have been killed in mass shootings in recent days, parents and families of children killed in a shooting at a school in Uvalde eight months ago called on Texas lawmakers Tuesday to pass “gun laws.” common sense” so that children “can stop living in NRA America.”
Parents gathered at the Texas Capitol for a news conference where state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, announced the bills he has filed and other plans for this year’s legislative session that began this month. and ends on May 29.
They were joined by the father of a student who was killed in the 2018 high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.
“Take clear note of these common sense gun laws that our children and the future need to live in the United States of America and stop living in the United States of the NRA,” said Velma Lisa Durán, of San Antonio, referring to to the National Rifle. Association, the most powerful gun lobby group in the country.
Durán’s sister, Irma García, was one of two teachers and 19 killed in the May 4, 2022 shooting in Uvalde. Garcia’s husband, Joe Garcia, died two days later of a heart attack.
The Uvalde massacre was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and one of the deadliest in the country. The law enforcement response has sparked investigations and outrage that officers waited more than an hour to enter the building and apprehend the shooter.
The calls for action from family and lawmakers come after deadly weekend shootings in California left 18 dead, a deadly shooting in Iowa left two dead and a mass shooting in Baton Rouge injured 12 since Saturday. in the evening. As of Tuesday, there have been 39 mass shootings so far this year, NBC News reported.
The grief over the Uvalde families’ losses was visible in tears, sobs and anger, as some of the family members made statements at the conference in Austin, which was broadcast live. Parents held up photos of their children and wore T-shirts and buttons with their names and images during the press conference.
Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Texas Democrat whose district includes Uvalde, introduced two bills and two resolutions. One resolution calls on Congress to repeal gun makers’ protections from lawsuits and another would allow families to sue the state or its auxiliary agencies for failing to apprehend the shooter.
In one of the bills, Gutiérrez proposes a compensation and violence fund for families of victims and victims of school violence that would be financed with taxes of five cents per round of ammunition and $50 per firearm.
The fund would pay $1 million per deceased person, $250,000 per seriously injured person, $100,000 for those with mental health injuries, and $50,000 for those with less serious physical injuries. Gutierrez said the federal excise tax on guns purchased in Texas each year is about $97 million. “I think we can have a piece of that action,” he said.
The second bill would end the qualified immunity that protects police officers in the performance of their duties and has complicated attempts by Uvalde’s parents and relatives to hold police officers accountable for the deaths of their loved ones.
Gutiérrez said he is introducing the legislation individually, rather than as part of a package that addresses a wide range of gun and violence-related issues, to give them their fair share. The strategy could force votes on legislation specifically related to Uvalde.
Texas leadership and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been criticized for failing to toughen legislation after other mass shootings in the state, including the Santa Fe school shooting and the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, which left 23 dead and 23 wounded. .
Gutierrez plans to introduce other bills, and parents plan to make more trips to Capitol Hill to push for their passage.
Some parents have called for an increase in the minimum age to purchase assault weapons, which is 18 in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has said doing so would be unconstitutional, according to court rulings. Some states have set the age limit at 21 to purchase long guns.
“This has to be the session where we do something. It cannot be the session where we have round tables. It cannot be the session where we have discussions. It has to be the session where we do something about gun safety,” Gutiérrez said.