WORLD / AMERICAS
Anger erupts over school murders
Texas governor dismisses calls for more gun control
Published: May 26, 2022 05:41 PM
A family grieves outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement.Photo: AFP

A family grieves outside of the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement.Photo: AFP

Grief at the massacre of 19 small children at an elementary school in Texas spilled into confrontation Wednesday, as angry questions mounted over gun control - and whether this latest tragedy could have been prevented.

The tight-knit Latino community of Uvalde on Tuesday became the site of America's worst school shooting in a decade, committed by a disturbed 18-year-old armed with a legally bought assault rifle.

Wrenching details have been steadily emerging since the tragedy, which also claimed the lives of two teachers.

Briefing reporters, Governor Greg Abbott revealed that teen shooter Salvador Ramos - who was killed by police - shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before heading to Robb Elementary School.

Ramos went on social media to share his plan to attack his grandmother - who though gravely injured was able to alert the police. He then messaged again to say his next target was a school, where he headed clad in body armor and wielding an AR-15 rifle.

Pressed on how the teen was able to obtain the murder weapon, the Texas governor repeatedly brushed aside suggestions that tougher gun laws were needed in his state - where attachment to the right to bear arms runs deep.

"I consider this person to have been pure evil," Abbott said, articulating a position commonly held among US Republicans - that unfettered access to weapons is not to blame for the country's gun violence epidemic.

Abbott's stance was echoed by the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby, which issued a statement labeling the shooter as "a lone, deranged criminal." But the governor was called out by a rival Democrat, who loudly interrupted the briefing to accuse him of deadly inaction.

"This is on you," heckled Beto O'Rourke, a fervent gun control advocate who is challenging Abbott for his job come November. "You are doing nothing!" 

O'Rourke's interruption came a day after President Joe Biden, in an emotional address, called on lawmakers to take on America's powerful gun lobby and enact tougher laws. 
Biden announced Wednesday that he would soon visit Uvalde, as he renewed his plea for "common sense gun reforms."

"I think we all must be there for them. Everyone. And we must ask when in God's name will we do what needs to be done to, if not completely stop, fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country."

"I am sick and tired of what's going on and continues to go on," Biden said.

In the shattered community of Uvalde, a small mainly Hispanic town about an hour from the Mexican border, there was outrage, too, at how such a tragedy could have occurred.

"I'm just heartbroken right now," said Ryan Ramirez, who lost his 10-year-old daughter Alithia in the rampage. 

"She was a real good artist" and aspired to greatness, Ramirez said.

AFP