HOUSTON: Hundreds of demonstrators, including more than a dozen of the Uvalde school shooting victims’ family members, gathered here Saturday urging the raise of the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.
They also demanded that the south-central U.S. state of Texas takes more actions to curb gun violence.
An 18-year-old gunman used a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle to kill 19 children and two teachers in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in May. Worries over campus safety linger as the new school year starts across the United States.
On the steps outside the state’s capitol, the parents and gun safety advocates demanded Governor Greg Abbott call a special session of the Texas Legislature to raise the age to purchase these weapons from 18 to 21, as Florida, California and New York have done.
“Nothing has changed,” said Maggie Mireles, the sister of Eva Mireles, one of the teachers who died at Robb Elementary. Many Uvalde families at the rally also worry it is just a matter of time before the next shooting.
As the parents and gun control campaigners spoke, protesters held up signs with the names and faces of the children and teachers who died in the Uvalde shooting.
Abbott was not in Austin during the rally. Local media reported that the governor, a Republican, has so far rejected calls for a special session and has not publicly supported raising the age for buying guns in Texas.
His Democratic rival, Beto O’Rourke, has vowed to raise the age to purchase the kinds of weapons the killer used in Uvalde.
While the Uvalde shooting was the deadliest so far in 2022, there have been at least 27 school shootings in 2022 that resulted in injuries or deaths in the United States, according to the school shooting tracker of Education Week, an independent news organization. There have been 119 since 2018 when Education Week began tracking such incidents.