Sister Of Victim In School Shooting Confronts Texas Official In Hearing

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On Tuesday, hundreds of demonstrators pushing for action on gun control gathered in the Texas state capital, Austin, and eventually went to the capitol building itself. Inside, the sister of a teacher who was killed in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, confronted a top official from a state law enforcement agency.

After the violence in Uvalde, law enforcement have faced intense scrutiny because of the length of time the attacker was able to remain in the school building. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw was asked about this concern by a member of the legislature during a hearing — and then faced additional outrage from the sister of the deceased teacher. “The department standpoint going forward shortly thereafter the Uvalde tragedy is that our policy is very simple: there’s no such thing as a barricaded subject on school grounds if they shot somebody,” McCraw said, according to The Austin American-Statesman. “You go find them and neutralize them.”

Velma Lisa Duran, whose sister Irma Garcia was killed, then began speaking out. “Then why didn’t that happen? Why did they wait 77 minutes?” she said, emotionally addressing the public safety official. “Your institution failed them. They stood around and enabled a shooter to obliterate my sister. We couldn’t recognize her! Look at me!” McCraw eventually just left, and Duran was escorted from the room. Outside the Capitol, those involved in demonstrations included survivors of school shootings in Texas, including the tragedy in Uvalde. Survivors of the Uvalde shooting, including a young girl and a teacher whose entire class of students that day were killed and who himself was shot, addressed some of those who had gathered.

The child, Caitlyne Gonzales, discussed some of what she was doing that day before the shooter began the assault. She also called out Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, who just won another term. “I shouldn’t have to be here, but I am because my friends don’t have a voice no more,” she added. Two of her friends died.

Among the specific policy proposals some of those who were protesting were trying to tout was raising the age at which people can buy weapons of the sort that the attacker in Uvalde used. Although some, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have openly and very aggressively questioned how effective that gun control measures would even be, the simple fact is that a difference in policy like was even implemented in Florida under GOP leadership after the school shooting in Parkland could have stopped the attack in Uvalde from happening. The Uvalde shooter, who was 18, legally obtained a semi-automatic rifle he used, a trend mirrored in other attacks. Also involved in the Texas demonstrations this week were a series of advocacy organizations and multiple state legislators.

Democrats in positions of state-level power have been able to implement safety measures like the ban on assault weapons recently signed by Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, which was in line with restrictions implemented in some other states. Elsewhere, though, Republicans like those currently leading Florida are moving the other direction. Under consideration in Florida is a bill that would add it to the list of states allowing residents to carry certain firearms without permits, eliminating an opportunity for oversight.