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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Editorial: How many more?

Photo by Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull

A protest organized by Teens For Gun Reform advocate for gun control in Washington D.C., following the the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  In light of the May 25 shooting at Robb Elementary School, talks of gun reform are being circulated once again.

On Aug. 1, 1966, 14 people were killed at the University of Texas in Austin, in what was the deadliest shooting in American history — at the time. Today, it is unclear how long that same shooting would have remained in the news cycle. On May 24, 2022, 21 people were senselessly and violently murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. 

19 of the 21 victims were elementary school-children.

When comparing these two mass shootings, 56 years apart, it becomes tragically clear that nothing has been done to stop these acts of violence. In fact, it can be argued it has only become easier for them to be committed. 

The UT shooter used more than half a dozen weapons to kill 14 people over the course of 96 minutes. The Uvalde shooter fatally wounded 21 people in less than an hour using a single weapon. A weapon that needs no introduction, the AR-15.

The devastating pain of the loss of young lives to gun violence has become an all too common feeling in the United States. For our generation of college students, exposure to school gun violence started ten years ago, during our late elementary and early middle school years, at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

From that moment on, our education took a shift. 

Time in the classroom wasn’t only about reading and writing. It was also about ducking and covering, crawling into hiding spaces, turning out the lights, huddling together in closets or behind teachers’ desks and being quiet. 

Over ten years, from 2012 to 2022, what has changed? How have we responded as a nation to the loss of life in our public schools? How have we, as Texans, taken action to protect our neighbors, particularly our most vulnerable community members? 

We haven’t. 

After the Sandy Hook shooting, then-Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy traveled to Newtown to inform families about the death of their children, just hours after the shooting stopped. Hours after the Uvalde shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott attended a fundraiser in Walker County for his reelection campaign, nearly 300 miles away from the heartbroken Texas community. 

Media coverage of these tragedies is bittersweet. It makes sense to fill the night’s broadcast with footage from the scene or to write a feature editorial discussing the tragedy. Genuine horror is felt toward these events, and the compulsion to talk about them is righteous. Capitalization, unfortunately, is the priority for some — making the most of a massacre. After the initial rush to cover the story, attention falls away and communities are left to grieve alone.

Political debate begins immediately, and soon the focus shifts from the event to the lawmakers. While we need to know how elected officials are addressing the situation, their rivalry makes headlines instead. During Gov. Abbott’s May 25 press conference, the day after the Uvalde shooting, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupted and accused Gov. Abbott of incompetency. 

Following the deaths of the students and teachers on Tuesday, Gov. Abbott said in a press conference, “it could have been worse.” 

On Friday, May 27, Gov. Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz and former President Donald Trump will be keynote speakers at the National Rifle Association, or NRA, convention in Houston. A pro-firearm event, which, ironically, has placed a ban on carrying firearms during parts of the convention.

Do these politicians’ loyalties belong to their constituents, their fellow Americans, fellow Texans and grieving families? Or does it belong to those who can offer the highest dollar amount to their campaign, by boasting about the ease of access to guns in the Lone Star State?

Governor Greg Abbott has achieved his mission of turning the state of Texas into a sanctuary for guns and anyone who wants to own one. Now, he must accept that he has now turned the state into a sanctuary for gun violence. It is the people of Texas who will have to pay that price.

Today, we remember those we’ve lost in the nearby community of Uvalde, the 19 children and 2 teachers who died. We stand with their community of family, friends and loved ones who are grieving. To the Uvalde community and members of the Aggie family in the area: We are thinking of you. But our charge cannot and will not stop there.

Perpetual, rampant gun violence in America has been a source of national grief, anger and loss for decades. If America wants to see an end to these preventable acts of violence, we must call on politicians to enact real changes in legislature. This is not a global issue, but a national one.

As one shooting eclipses another in a seemingly endless cycle, we bear witness to a horrifying pattern: in the absence of action from politicians, it is the victims who are left to defend themselves. While our leadership and laws remain stagnant, it is teachers, faculty and even students who are forced to accept the responsibility of facing these threats. 

As each successive shooting has testified, combating these adversaries is a duty ill-fitted for the over-burdened shoulders of administrators and police alone. The protection of children is a sacred responsibility which demands sacrifice and action from the entirety of our nation, state and community.

Eva Mireles, 44

Irma Garcia, 48

Xavier Javier Lopez, 10

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Navaeah Bravo, 10

Tess Marie Mata

Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10 

Uziyah Garcia, 10

Rojelio Torres, 10

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Jayce Cermelo Luevanos, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11

Jose Flores Jr., 10

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 10

Annabell Guadalupe Rodríguez, 10

Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10

Miranda Mathis, 11

Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10

Layla Salazar, 10 

Editor’s note: The names and ages of all the victims have not yet been confirmed.

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    Rock T. G. AggMay 10, 2024 at 9:00 am

    While mass shooting events are up, total shootings and casualties are down over the last several decades. Get the facts straight!