What Events Took Place at the Texas School Shooting?
Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old gunman, killed 19 children and two adults in the deadliest school shooting in almost a decade. The school shooting has called for gun law reform in the US. The massacre occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24th 2022. The gunman reportedly shot his grandmother, who survived, before driving to the school to carry out the attack. The gun massacre in East Buffalo occurred just three days prior, where ten people were killed.
This marked the 30th school shooting at a K-12 school in the US. Since 1999, nearly 200 children and others have been killed in shootings on K-12 campuses in the US. Furthermore, the Washington Post held that 311,000 children have witnessed gun violence in places meant to be considered safe. However, these statistics do not begin to capture the true scope of this epidemic in the US.
The teenager had legally purchased two rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition days before the shooting. He killed 19 fourth-graders aged eight to 10 and two teachers with a semi-automatic rifle. Additionally, he injured seven others. The Texas Department of Public Safety held that the gunman was killed 78 minutes after entering the school. As a result of this, the Texas Police Department face criticism, and a full investigation is underway to revise the events that day.
Texas School Shooting Raises Debates Over Gun Law Reform
In 2020, guns became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers, overriding car accidents. Despite this, Congress allows teenagers easy access to guns without proper vetting. The Texas school shooting is another tragedy to add to the significant mass shootings in the last ten years. After so many mass shootings in the US, why are people still asking the same questions?
In December 2012, 20 children and six staff members died at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This was the worst school shooting at an elementary school in US history. After this shooting, anti-gun activists proposed widening and reinforcing background checks for gun law reform. Consequently, with overwhelming support from the American public, these proposals for background checks passed in March 2021. However, the proposals have drained in the Senate, where they would need 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster. A filibuster is a political procedure in which one or more members of a legislative body prolong debate on proposed legislation to delay or entirely prevent decisions.
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is a US gun rights advocacy group. Founded in 1871 to advance rifle marksmanship, the NRA has become a prominent gun-rights lobbying organization. The Texas school shooting has put significant financial pressure on the NRA and created internal turmoil. The NRA still has significant cash reserves for lobbying and influencing the US gun policy debate.
The NRA still went ahead with its annual pro-gun lobby Convention in Heuston, Texas, on May 27th 2022. Despite the Texas school shooting occurring 280 miles away from where the gunman shot 21 people three days prior, the Convention went ahead. Former President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz were some of the high-profile Republicans participating in the event. The Republicans call for more significant investments in school security instead of focusing on gun reform. Gun reform activists criticized the Convention for going ahead with the event, calling for its cancellation out of respect for the victims and their families.
In addition to this, the NRA has donated an estimated $442,000 to Senator Ted Cruz’s political campaigns. The gun group has spent more than $2 million lobbying Texas state legislators as they have significantly loosened gun restrictions in Texas in the last five years. This has had considerable consequences for Texas, making it the epicentre of gun violence in the US. The US pro-gun advocates claim their rights under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
US President Biden is Powerless in Demanding Gun Reform
US President Biden asked some agonizing questions in the hours following the Texas school shooting.
“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?
Why do we keep letting this happen?
Where in God’s name is our backbone?”.
These comments by Biden underscore just how powerless the US President is in contributing to significant lobbying for gun law reform. Republicans have been stonewalling for years on any significant federal gun safety legislation. Some US states are demanding gun reform following the recent large-scale shootings in New York and Texas. Democrats in some blue states are making new efforts to reinvigorate proposals toward what gun control advocates call “evidence-based policy interventions”.
Gun Violence Have A Long-term Negative Impact on Children For the Rest of Their Lives
Children who witness gun violence and see their classmates die are profoundly traumatized. Research by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health shows how children directly or indirectly involved in school shootings are still profoundly affected by them and often experience anxiety and depression. One 11-year-old student survivor from Robb Elementary School, Miah Cerrillo, recalls how she smeared her classmate’s blood on her face and played dead to avoid being targeted by the shooter.
A 2021 review published in Current Psychiatry Reports shows the effects of mass shootings on mental health of children and adolescents. The review found that children aged 2 to 9 who are directly or indirectly exposed to gun violence have increased rates of PTSD. However, older children aged 10-19 need several exposures to violence for it to lead to PTSD. The research concluded that “younger children are more sensitive to violence and develop psychological symptoms post-exposure to violence at higher rates”.
Moreover, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, described the Texas school shooting as “heart-wrenching”.
Disproportionate Impact of School Shootings Affect Children of Color
The Washington Post conducted a study that found a disproportionate impact of school shootings affect children of colour.
Caption: Statistics obtained from the Washington Post. The image shows how black students make up 16.6% of the school population but still experience school shootings disproportionately at twice that rate (33%).
Is This the Moment to Reform US Gun Laws?
In November 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association jointly declared a national children’s mental health emergency. Gun violence and mass shootings are ubiquitous in the US, contributing to a worsening mental health crisis.
The Democrats and Republicans must find a middle ground in improving gun regulations to prevent future mass shootings. The next few days will demonstrate whether both parties can reach a bipartisan deal. Will the Texas school shooting serve as another reminder that Congress will be unable to create meaningful change? Or will they be able to compromise and stop future attacks?