Abbott Gun Violence

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the mass shooting a “heinous and senseless act of violence.”

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific shooting and to the entire community in this time of loss,” Abbott said in a statement according to the San Antonio Report. “While no words can provide the solace needed for those impacted by this event, I ask that all Texans join Cecilia and me in offering our prayers for the victims and their families.”

The problem with such a heartfelt, although general statement lies in the fact that it was issued not after the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, but rather after the third deadliest mass shooting in Texas occurred at a Walmart in El Paso in 2019. Two years prior in 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in Texas occurred at a church in Sutherland Springs.

This time around, the Governor offered a seemingly familiar statement of hollow words and inaction for the victims of the tragedy.

“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” Abbott said in a statement posted to his official Twitter account. “Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss and we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering.”

The trend of thoughts and prayers will continue with no legal action being taken to prevent these mass shootings, as not only has nothing been done to stop potentially violent people from purchasing these weapons, but it may become easier to procure one. The state is one of the weakest when it comes to gun laws, scoring an F on a gun law scorecard from the gun control advocacy group Giffords: Courage To Fight Gun Violence.

1.73 million firearm background checks were done in 2020, brought on by an overwhelming number of first-time gun owners. The amount of money spent by gun lobbyists was five times the amount spent by gun control groups in 2021, a shift from 2020, a presidential election year when gun control groups were able to outspend. This money changes hands from advocates and lobbyists directly to politicians to sway which way they vote on legislation. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups have spent millions to turn back the tide for the upcoming midterms.

While there are huge leaps that must be taken toward gun control and efforts have been made, gun sales have loopholes around background checks, and the 2019 House Resolution 8 (HR8) has yet to receive enough bipartisan support to land on the president's desk.

For certain, there are two things that should be done in the immediate future if we had a competent government, the first being the enforcement of universal background checks. 89% of Americans support background checks for all people and 86% back "red flag" laws that would allow police to take guns from individuals deemed dangerous by a judge, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

In the meantime, voting is the second course of action that needs to be taken. Not every four years, not every midterm, but in every local election remains imperative. Americans are tired of being told how important each election is, yet elected officials fail to do their job when another mass shooting happens. Taking action does not stop at voting. We must continue to hold elected officials accountable after our votes are cast.

Abbott will look to line his pockets and defend his seat in November against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who confronted the serving Governor at his press conference in Uvalde.

As news broke on May 24 of the school shooting, the Governor continued his regularly scheduled fundraising on his way to his Uvalde press conference while other state representatives canceled similar events. Just days after the second-worst mass shooting in Texas, all under his term as governor, Abbott and several of his Republican colleagues were scheduled to speak at a convention for the NRA in Houston.

As Abbott continues to offer his thoughts and prayers, Texans are demanding action. As of April, 51% of Texas voters say that the state is headed in the wrong direction, the Texas Politics Project reports. Additionally, 41% disapproved of Abbott's actions.

Numbness is felt and humanity and hope are lost as news breaks of another mass shooting, day after day. Ten days after a gunman took the lives of 10 in a Buffalo Tops supermarketnot far from where I grew up in upstate New York, I watched San Antonio news broadcasters interview Uvalde family members seeking knowledge of the whereabouts of their either traumatized or slain elementary school children.

After both events took place, I watched my childhood baseball team, the New York Yankees, play one of its 162 regular-season games to escape from the sometimes jarring realities of living in America. The Yankees delivered via a walk-off hit by a Texas native, catcher Jose Trevino. For a few hours, I was happily distracted by a story about a Texas kid living out his big league dreams, dreams that 19 Uvalde children cannot live out now.

As the Uvalde community mourns their lost loved ones, they seek answers and demand action and accountability from a state with a growing history of gun violence. The current governing body will help for as long as it can by offering its thoughts and prayers. Through action, starting at the polling station, these heartless characters can relinquish power.

- Dillon Strine is a journalism senior

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