Texans join calls for gun reform during nationwide ‘March for Our Lives' rallies
The rallies across the country came the same weekend a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators agreed in principle to a package of gun-reform laws.
Thousands of Texans from across the state took to the streets Saturday to protest gun violence and urge lawmakers to pass laws aimed at preventing mass shootings like the one that took 21 lives in Uvalde last month.
From Dallas to Houston and El Paso to Marfa, Texans took part in the nationwide protests, called March for Our Lives. The call to action comes as Texas has seen at least six mass shootings in the past six years, including Uvalde, the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting where 26 were killed and the El Paso Walmart shooting in 2019 that claimed 23 lives.
In San Antonio, military veteran and educator John Cedio told Texas Public radio there was misinformation about what gun-reform advocates want to accomplish. It’s not about taking away firearms, he said, but instead overhauling the process used to obtain them.
“"I think one side believes that this movement is out there to take away guns," Cedio said as he explained the group's goals. "Really, it's to change the ease at which people get them. And it's about the types of weapons that are available for citizens to use to inflict mass death,” he told TPR.
A rally in North Texas was spearheaded by two high school students in Frisco and drew about 200 supporters, KERA reported.
Among them was Marian Felberbaum, a retired teacher who criticized state lawmakers for focusing on cultural issues over the safety of school children.
“Banning books but not guns, very interesting," Felberbaum said. "I was a former educator in New Jersey for 40 years. Down here in Texas, it's a strange place.”
Similar rallies took place in Lubbock, Houston, Fort Worth and El Paso, where marchers called on raising the age limit to purchase semi-automatic rifles. In Texas, a person 18-years-old or older can buy a semi-automatic long rifle, including an AR-15 or similar weapon. Gunman in the Uvalde and El Paso shootings both used AR-15-style rifles. The Uvalde shooter reportedly purchased his weapon just days after his 18th birthday, leading some Uvalde residents to support stricter rules.
March for Our Lives was created by survivors of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. A similar nationwide rally was held in the aftermath of that shooting.
The rallies took place one day before a group of U.S. Senators, including Texas Republican John Cornyn, announced they agreed to a bipartisan framework of proposed gun legislation.
The package would provide funding for mental health resources at the state level and would also expand background checks for a potential gun purchaser’s juvenile and mental health records, according to a press release from Cornyn’s office. It would also incentivize states to pass “red flag” laws, which would “ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.”
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