Written by Jim Vertuno and Jack Bleiberg, Associated Press
Austin, Texas (AP) – The first public hearings in Texas for consideration Uvald school massacre They focused on a series of fatal law enforcement errors, school building safety and mental health care with little mention of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and rifle repair.
A day after the Texas police chief called in for law enforcement response to the May 24 massacre “Failure”, Texas Senators on Wednesday turned their attention to mental health funding for schools and a shortage of counsellors and mental health providers.
Just toward the end of Wednesday’s hearing at the Texas Capitol, was there a lot of talk about gun laws. Even then, he received little recognition.
Neither government officials nor families testified from Ovaldi during the two days of the hearings.
Failed response to the attack that left 19 children and two teachers Dead before police kill the Robb Elementary school shooter has outraged the nation, and the latest wave of deadly mass shootings has renewed pressure for more gun laws. By the end of the week, the US Senate could pass new legislation that would tighten background checks for the smallest buyers of firearms and require more sellers to conduct background checks.
But the Republican-dominated committee studying the tragedy in Ovaldi appears to have little appetite for new gun laws, even after a series of mass shootings in Texas have killed more than 85 people in the past five years — at El Paso Walmart, which is Church in Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe High School outside of Houston and in the oil state of West Texas.
The Republican-controlled state legislature has spent the past decade removing the restrictions. Texas does not require a permit to carry a long gun like the one used on Yuvaldi. Last year, lawmakers made it legal for anyone 21 and older to carry a handgun in public without a license, security check or training.
Nicole Golden, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, told the commission that tighter gun controls may have prevented past mass shootings in Texas and urged state lawmakers to consider so-called “red flag” law and require background checks on private firearm sales.
“I haven’t seen anything like this last month in terms of anger, despair, and heartbreak,” Golden said. “Texas is facing a crisis, we know we’ve had it for a long time.”
She received no questions from Republican lawmakers on the committee.
Outside the Senate chamber, nearly two dozen members of the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America carried signs criticizing Republican Governor Greg Abbott and urging lawmakers to take new restrictions on gun sales and ownership.
“We are tired of these do-nothing committees and roundtables that have been happening after every mass shooting in Texas,” said Melanie Green of Austin. They talk about what went wrong and usually everything but the guns. We are tired of all the talk and want some action.”
Among the changes the group wants is to raise the age of gun ownership from 18 to 21. The gunman at Robb Elementary School was a former student, Salvador Ramos, who purchased the weapon used in the attack just after his 18th birthday.
Green was not optimistic. “This committee is a dog and pony show. It is a political performative theatre. But we are not going to give up,” Green said.
Republican Senator Bob Hall tried to stay away from any talk of guns.
“It doesn’t take a gun. This guy has had time to do it with his hands or a baseball bat. So it’s not the gun, it’s the person,” Hall said Tuesday, as the sessions began in Austin, 160 miles (260 kilometers) from Ovaldi. .
“Without having a discussion about those rights and their associated limitations, this would be an incomplete discussion,” said Senator Royce West, a member of the Senate Democratic committee.
Still, it is the delays and errors in law enforcement’s response Rob Primary School That is the focus of federal, state, and local investigations.
Steve McCro, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday that police had enough officers and firepower at the school to stop Ramos three minutes after he entered the building, but they made up for it. I waited more than an hour before storming the classroom and killing him.
McCraw identified a series of missed opportunities, communication breakdowns and mistakes based on an investigation of nearly 700 interviews. He also blamed a lot of Pete Arredondo, Uvalde School District Police Chief Which Makro said was the responsible commander.
Arredondo, who testified Tuesday at a closed session of the Texas House of Representatives Committee, said that He did not consider himself responsible And suppose someone else took over. He declined repeated requests for comment from the Associated Press.
Mayor Yuvaldi refused to blame Macro Arredondo, saying the Department of Public Safety had repeatedly reported false information about the shootings and questioned the role of its officers.
On Wednesday, Hal Harrell, District Director of Uvald Independent School District, said that Arredondo put on administrative leave Because the facts of what happened are still unclear. In a statement, Harrell did not address Arredondo’s actions as a commander at the scene during the attack, but said he did not know when details of the multiple investigations into the law enforcement response to the killings would be revealed.
Public pressure increased on state and local officials to release more information.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Roland Gutierrez, representing Ovaldi, filed a lawsuit to force the Texas Department of Public Safety to turn over records related to its investigation into the shooting. “The families of the victims deserve to know the full and unalterable truth about what happened that day,” a lawyer for the Democrat wrote in the lawsuit.
Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer John Seawer in Toledo, Ohio contributed to this report.
Find out more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting
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