Uvalde Parents Protest, Play Audio of Their Children Outside of Abbott’s Mansion

Families of the children killed in the Uvalde Elementary School shooting in Texas protested before Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) mansion early on Saturday morning, demanding that he call a special session of the legislature to address gun violence.

The family members were joined by March for Our Lives members. around 5:15 am on Saturday to protest the governor’s inaction. Some parents displayed portraits of their murdered children. They also played audio of their children laughing and playing over a loudspeaker, pausing at times to shout the names of their children and to condemn Abbott’s refusal to promote gun reform legislation after the May shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.

“Our kids are going back to school and asking, ‘Will I be next?’” said Javier CazaresJackie, the daughter of a deceased man, was among those who were killed in the shooting.

Family members demanded Abbott call a special session to raise the purchase age for assault rifles or other semi-automatic weapons to 21.

“You do not give a damn, you care more about our guns than you do our children…We remember them, and we are going to make damn well sure that you do to,” said Brett CrossUziyah Garcia’s legal guardian and uncle, who was killed during the massacre.

The protest at the Capitol was followed by a larger one on the steps. Here, family members including Ann Rodriguez, the mother to Maite Rodriguez’s shooting victim, continued to call for gun reform.

“I want to be able to speak about her but also talk about how her life was so meaninglessly taken by this 18-year-old kid who was able to purchase these weapons of war and ammunition, and how I am demanding that the age go up in a special session,” Rodriguez told NPR. “I’m not going to ask — I’m going to demand.”

A spokesperson for Abbott wrote in an email to HuffPost that the governor is leaving “all options” on the table to address gun violence, and that “more announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks as the legislature deliberates proposed solutions.”

Abbott has rejected formal requestsUvalde City Council and the County Commissioners Court will hold special sessions on the topic. He also informed Uvalde family members direct that raising the age for purchasing assault rifles would be against the Constitution, and that mental health initiatives should focus on reducing mass shootings.

But experts say right-wing claims that mass shootings are driven by mental illnessIt could be detrimental for mentally ill people to shift the focus from gun manufacturers and legislators.

“People with serious mental illness who have access to firearms are no more likely to be violent than people living in the same neighborhoods who do not have mental illnesses,” wrote Brent Teasdale, a professor of criminal justice at Pennsylvania State University, and Miranda Lynne Baumann, then a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University’s criminal justice and criminology program, In a 2018 Article Truthout.

They said that limiting access to people with mental health issues could cause people to avoid seeking treatment.

“There is certainly an argument to be made for the temporary removal of firearm access for individuals actively experiencing mental health crises,” Teasdale and Baumann added. “However, the threat of permanent loss of one’s Second Amendment right could cause harm. People might avoid treatment for fear of losing their guns.”