Uvalde: Parents tired of fighting politicians for justice, but they won't give up

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Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 09, 2023

Mental Health: Texas (15 to 33): Texas’ percentage of adults with cognitive disability who could not see a doctor due to cost increased from 34.57% in 2017-2018 to 40.65% in 2018-2019 — a reversal from the improvement in last mental health year’s report.

Gun Laws: Texas has had eight major mass shootings in the past 13 years, and lawmakers have loosened restrictions on carrying firearms. Two of those shootings were at Fort Hood in Central Texas.

Poll: University of Texas polls shows that Texans are divided about gun control — with 40% to 50% saying they want stricter gun laws.

On the steps of the state capitol, a chant rang out — "Do your job."

Hundreds gathered outside after a march down the streets of Austin, Texas.

Robb Elementary school shooting survivor, 10-year-old Caitlyne Gonzales, yells through a bullhorn; "Don't be silent," followed by a crowd chanting, "End violence."

Gonzales experienced a bullet shot near her head — and lost several of her friends. The fifth grader is now using her voice to speak to lawmakers, and in front of crowds.

“On May 24, everything changed. I was at my award ceremony that day, earlier, before the shooting. As soon as we got to our class we heard the gunshots,” Gonzales said, trying to fight back tears.

After a few moments, the young girl was able to finish speaking.

“He wobbled my doorknob — he banged on my door. He shot at my door, and a bullet went over my head. I remember hearing my best friends scream,” Gonzales said.

“Greg Abbott has done nothing to protect me or my friends. I had to wait there for 77 minutes, and then I heard the glass break. I had to run to the funeral home — barefoot with no shoes on.”

Greg Abbott
FILE - In this March 16, 2020 file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Governor Greg Abbott has said he's helping the victims. In August, spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott had taken action to “address all aspects of the heinous crime committed in Uvalde.”

Eze said that this included providing $105.5 million to fund safety and mental health initiatives.

Protestors were in tears as they cheered on Gonzales.

One protestor in attendance was Brett Cross, who lost his 10-year-old son, Uziyah Garcia.

Garcia was one of the 21 students and teachers gunned down in the shooting on May 24.

Many of the families have stated that they are sick of fighting lawmakers and would rather prefer to grieve.

Just days after the shooting, many of them had to fight for answers after a delayed law enforcement response.

Related: Closing a critical loophole for gun background checks has gained bipartisan support in Texas

Families asked for changes to law enforcement investigations and gun laws, and for an outsider to investigate police and to not use internal investigations.

Another requested change was to a bill that focuses on "banning kid-killer bullets, safe gun storage, and closing gun show loopholes," according to a release from Gutierrez's office.

  • Senate Bill 1737: would make expanding and fragmenting bullets illegal.
  • Senate Bill 1736: requires that gun show vendors and promoters conduct background checks before the sale of any gun — with the exceptions for firearm sales to peace officers and those who are licensed to carry. Gun show owners would have to maintain sales records, and promoters would be required to provide notice of the gun show to law enforcement a month before.
  • Senate Bill 1740: Firearm owners who had a gun in a vehicle would have to store guns in a locked container, and kept from plain sight. Guns or ammunition in an unattended car or boat are a misdemeanor and would require sign postings for firearms dealers.
  • Senate Bill 1738: would require all law enforcement officers in a child-involved shooting to be immediately placed under administrative leave/suspension and trigger an automatic independent law enforcement investigation, and would make it so that the officer could be terminated, suspended, or disciplined if the use of force was unjustified or the officer failed to stop the child's death.
  • Senate Bill 1739: would make it so that anyone convicted of murdering students or employees at schools would face life without parole.

Related: Families of 21 killed in Uvalde school shooting confront Texas DPS director

Many believe the chances of more gun legislation will be difficult to pass in Texas.

Professor Andi Ramon, who teaches government and politics and both McLennan Community College and Baylortold25 Newsanchor Todd Unger that she isn’t sure any meaningful gun legislation will become law in the heavily controlled Republican congress.

“I think reform will be on mental health side […] having the ability to go beyond and get that majority that’s required is going to be very difficult,” Ramon said.

“There’s been barriers. I don’t know if this gun legislation will be successful.”

2022 State of Mental Health in America by Nick Bradshaw on Scribd

Parents from Uvalde know that this is an uphill battle — but are ready to keep fighting. They will also continue to fight for mental health issues in Texas.

The Texas mental health care workforce has been vocal about the mental health issues in the state — going to lawmakers and asking for help when it comes to rule areas, children, and adults.

Over 80 percent of Texas counties have Mental Health Professional Shortages, according to Texas Statewide Behavioral Health.

Texas is last on the list when it comes to access to children’s mental health services, and listed as 33rd for adult care, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit advocacy group.