On May 17, just a few days after his 18th birthday, the gunman from Uvalde Bought two guns in AR style. Those guns killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, resulting in the deadliest Texas public school shooting. The families of the Uvalde victims and survivors both wanted justice and for something – anything – to be changed about Texas gun control policy.
Uvalde isn’t the only shooting that has occurred in Texas. For the past 13 years, Texas has suffered eight separate mass shootings.
In response to the number of shootings across the state, the Abbott administration must raise the minimum age to purchase assault rifles from 18 to 21.
University Democrats campus director James Hallamek expressed his disapproval of Abbott’s stance.
“I think offensive weapons are weapons of war. I don’t think they’re for practical self-defense or hunting… I don’t think they have a place here in mainstream society,” Hallamek said. “I think pushing the age of purchase down to 21 is a good idea. I think a lot of these (bulk) shooters…are young people who haven’t reached a certain level of maturity yet.”
Hallemek is right. The Uvalde shooter was only 18 years old when he bought his guns and a to learn The Journal of Injury Prevention found that 17% of shooters would not have been able to purchase a gun if their state had a law prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from owning a gun.
Political scientist and government professor at Austin Community College Roy Casagranda also questioned Gov. Abbott’s lack of legislative action.
“He could get up and put himself in front of a microphone and say this is what I believe and I don’t care what the law is, the law needs to be changed and we need to think about changing the age where you can own an assault rifle,” said Casagranda.
Despite the obstacles Abbott may face and his claims that the law would be unconstitutionalexperts say that increasing the age for buying an assault rifle is still possible.
In response to media inquiries, the Abbott administration described an alternative root of the gun violence problem.
“Last month, a Texas federal court — in accordance with the Supreme Court’s new standard — overturned a law restricting gun rights for adults between the ages of 18 and 21. Governor Abbott continues to work on solutions that focus on the root of the problem: mental health,” the governor’s office said in an emailed statement.
The Texas federal court in Fort Worth said the law, which banned the carrying of firearms by 18-20 year olds, violated the Second Amendment.
“As long as he (Abbott) has the backing of the legislature … he could sign it into law, he could put the age limit at 21,” Casgranda said. “If you get gunned down by that federal judge fort worththey could appeal and see if they could get a different decision at some other level.”
As Casagranda has described, raising the minimum age is possible but difficult given the current political climate. Regardless of the obstacles that stand in the way, all affected by these shootings deserve justice and efforts for better gun control policies to be made on their behalf. Abbott needs to push for raising the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle.
While mental health is a major factor behind these shootings, the ultimate outcome of this violence is not solely due to a lack of mental health resources. These multi-faceted issues require a multi-pronged approach that includes addressing a variety of underlying issues such as mental health, but also gun control and even crime control.
Governor Abbott, protect our state in an important way. Uvalde’s parents and parents-to-be struck by tragedy sure to happen deserve better than political negligence and shallow activism. Texas needs actionable, actionable change.
Zhang is a sophomore in Katy, Texas.