What Has Changed Since Uvalde 

Uvalde Press Release
A Look at Texas vs. Federal Gun Safety Priorities

Austin American-Statesman

Key Facts & Toplines:

  • 86% of Texas voters support strengthening background checks
  • Far-right extremists and the NRA drown out majority sought solutions
  • This Uvalde anniversary, Americans should close the gun show loophole

Uvalde Families Sue Texas DPS Officers Over Botched Response

At a press conference in Uvalde on May 22, the attorney representing the 19 families who lost children in the tragic school shooting, said, “The children were failed long before the shooting.” Josh Koskoff pointed to details found in a 600-page Justice Department report that highlighted “cascading failures” in training and communication that stemmed from long term, flawed leadership. Veronica Luevanos, whose daughter Jaliah and nephew Jayce were killed, said, “For two long years, we have languished in pain and without any accountability from the law enforcement agencies and officers who allowed our families to be destroyed that day.” The new lawsuit against 92 Texas Department of Public Safety officers along with other school and law enforcement officials will help heal the great loss of each parent and surviving sibling as well as point rightful blame at gun-extremist leaders in Texas, who have failed in providing policy changes that could have protected children that day.

USA Today

An Impeached and Desperate Attorney General Protects Donors Over Children

Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton showed his true allegiance as he sued the Biden Administration over a new ATF rule change announced in April, which would expand the definition of who needs a background check in private gun sales, along with clearly defining those sellers who will have to register as a licensed dealer. Paxton, looking to hand a rally cry to extreme far right donors, while ignoring Uvalde families, has no legal standing in challenging the federal government in what is sure to be a costly battle for Texas taxpayers. The federal intervention would protect families and children.

World Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It - The New York Times

One investigation, by Everytown For Gun Safety, found that 1 in 9 people who respond to online ads from unlicensed sellers would fail a background check. Unlicensed, same day gun sales, according to the Biden Administration’s Fact Sheet promoting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and subsequent ATF rule change, notes at least three mass shootings could have been preventable with universal background checks. These include the Columbine High School shooting, where acquaintances purchased firearms for teenagers at a gun show, and the Midland/Odessa mass shooting, where the gunman previously tried to purchase a firearm from a sporting goods store but was turned down due to his mental health history, only to later purchase an AR-15 assault-style rifle from an unlicensed seller he met online. 

Elizabeth Eckford entering Little Rock Central High School amid protests against federal desegregation in 1957. UC Berkeley News

Time and time again, when state governments (like the Texas Governor, Legislature, Attorney General) haven't acted in the public’s best interest, the federal government intervenes and supersedes small minded, minority interests. We can compare and remember other examples that required federal action like civil, women’s and LGBTQ rights, further promoting culture shifts. 

Of course, Attorney General Ken Paxton and his buddies are going to lie to boost their camera spotlight. Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach recently said, “Under the new rule, if Ken [Paxton] and I were to trade guns, one of us would have to get an FFL, pay $200 and have the ATF issue a license.” Stefanie Feldman, the director of the new national Office of Gun Violence Protection, set these guys straight, noting the rule only applies to sellers earning a profit or running a business. Nicole Golden, executive director of Texas Gun Sense further expands on public sentiment, “The new ATF rule is safeguarding our children and families in public spaces from schools to malls, and has the support of the vast majority of Texans.” Golden supported her comment with a Dallas Morning News - UT Tyler poll, “Eighty-six percent of Texas voters support strengthening background checks, recognizing that we must do more to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with documented violent histories.”

Victims of Uvalde Robb Elementary School Shooting on May 24, 2022, KDFW Fox 4

Texas Continues to Fail Uvalde Victims

These new rules on increasing background checks come at a time of increased mass shootings but also confusion on what steps gun shows should be taking to stay within the law as well as reduce their risk of arming the next mass or school shooter. In Far West Texas, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said he’d be happy to help a local gun show come into compliance with the new law, while also noting the Paxton suit could create an injunction, therefore not requiring his services to perform background checks for a small fee. (A current injunction on the AFT rule change is in effect until June 2.) However in a similar conversation, a local Lions Club representative, the organizer of the annual Big Bend Gun and Knife Show, was worried. He said if they required licensed dealers or background checks, they might lose vendors and attendees. The gun show is set for Labor Day weekend. It’s quite possible, as in past years, anyone will be able to walk in and buy an automatic weapon without any check on their criminal record. Even more disturbing, the event takes place on a school campus at the student auditorium of Sul Ross State University.

Matthew McConaughey Calls for Gun Reform at White House, Yahoo

Paxton’s actions are especially despicable in light of the second anniversary of the tragic shooting in Uvalde, which took 21 lives, including 19 children, on May 24, 2022. Do you remember weeks later when Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey begged those in Washington to act because we knew the Texas Legislature would do nothing? Well, you were right. For years, the NRA-backed, conservative majority has passed deadly gun laws like open-carry. Those in power in Texas may mourn the children that died two years ago, but only create more opportunities for killing.

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