Texas was shocked to its core last week as a result of yet another school shooting that stole the lives of 21 people; nine children between the ages of eight and eleven and two teachers.
The US, shockingly, has already seen 212 mass shootings in the first 145 days of 2022, averaging 1.4 mass shootings each day. Yet, this attack has been deemed the deadliest school shooting in America since the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school in December 2012.
The victims were shot in the Texan city of Uvalde, a town with a population of 16,000 people about 75 miles from the Mexican border of San Antonio. It has been uncovered that the gunman, teenager Salvador Ramos (18), purchased two AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles on the day of his 18th birthday. It has also emerged that Ramos had been sending several messages on social media just hours before the shootings, stating his intentions to inflict violence upon the elementary school children. According to CNN, the messages were sent to a 15-year-old girl in Germany who is cooperating with investigators.
Before driving to the school Ramos also shot his grandmother in the head and then fled the scene. Neighbour, Gilbert Gallegos (82) heard the gunshots from his garden and recalls watching Ramos drive away in his car. Ramos’ grandmother is stable but remains in the hospital.
The police officers who attended the scene have been accused of delaying their entry into the Ulvade school as onlookers have revealed that the massacre lasted upwards of 40 agonising minutes before the assailant was killed by a Border Patrol team. Eyewitness, Juan Carranza revealed that there were countless people shouting for the officers to “go in there” and that the police “weren’t doing anything” as inconsolable parents looked on in horror.
Vigils in memory of the children and teachers killed in the shooting have been taking place in Uvalde with people travelling to lay flowers near Robb Elementary School.
Since the incident, there have been calls for tighter restrictions on firearms, with Democrat Beto O’Rourke calling the tragedy “predictable” and that unless people choose to do something, “this will continue to happen”. However, there are many divided opinions about guns in the US and despite numerous attempts over the years for stricter gun laws, there has always Republican opposition in Congress. According to the Texas Politics Project, 53% of Texans are in favour of stricter gun laws while 35% believe they should remain the same and 11% think they should be relaxed further.
In response to the incident, President Joe Biden has called for action on gun control, announcing that he is “sick and tired of what is going on and what continues to go on”. The President said that the fact Ramos was able to purchase the weapon that was “designed and marketed to kill, is just wrong”.
The question of how to prevent such devastating tragedies from occurring while America’s firearm sales continue to soar still remains, and how we can protect American children from being murdered in the place they are meant to feel the safest.
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