What To Know Today
At least 19 children and two teachers were shot dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The suspected shooter, an 18-year-old man, is also dead, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. According to officials, the suspect shot and critically injured his grandmother before targeting the school in Uvalde, a predominantly Hispanic and close-knit town of about 15,000, located west of San Antonio. Several students were also injured in the attack, which took place just two days before classes were to be dismissed for summer.
It was the deadliest shooting at a school since Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, when a gunman killed 26 people in December 2012. Yesterday’s events eerily echoed that tragedy — the shooting of a relative that preceded the attack, the young ages of the victims, and the immediate communal devastation it wrought. “I spent the formative part of my career in a Connecticut elementary school,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “I will never forget the ripple effect of fear and heartbreak that spread among students and teachers in the aftermath of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting.” Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son died at Sandy Hook, told The New York Times, “I guess it’s something in society we know will happen again, over and over.” The Uvalde attack is the deadliest mass shooting of the year and among the worst in American history.
A collective outpouring of grief, outrage, and calls to action. As Robb Elementary parents endured the agonizing wait to learn their children’s fate at a reunification center, national and local leaders ranging from educators and activists to politicians and athletes quickly condemned the violence, calling attention to the repetitive cycle of gun death in America. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” President Joe Biden intoned in a White House address commemorating the victims and calling for swift change. “It’s time to turn this pain into action for every parent, for every citizen in this country.” Uvalde’s county judge called it “the saddest day in the history of Uvalde.” Robb Elementary School serves second through fourth graders. Excluding Tuesday’s shooting, so far in 2022 there have been at least 38 shootings in American K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, resulting in at least 10 deaths and 51 injuries.
The broader threat firearm violence poses for children. In 2020, 301 children 11 years and under were fatally shot and 700 injured, according to Gun Violence Archive; in 2021, there were 313 child deaths and 750 injuries. Including all people under 20, gun violence surpassed motor vehicle crashes to become the leading cause of death for young people in 2020, according to an April research letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It observed more than 4,300 deaths from firearm-related injuries in 2020, a 29 percent increase over 2019.
The shooter reportedly used a rifle he legally purchased right after he turned 18. A law enforcement official told The Wall Street Journal he carried two assault-style rifles he purchased at a local seller earlier this month. An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety also said that the shooter wore body armor, reminiscent of the Buffalo shooter. Two local police officers and a school resource officer reportedly engaged the shooter after he crashed his vehicle into a barrier outside the school building, but were unsuccessful in preventing him from entering. A Border Patrol agent who was called to the scene rushed into the school where the shooter was barricaded in one classroom and fatally shot him, an official told the AP.The Washington Post and New York Times have more on the suspect’s background.
The cycle repeats: National Democrats renew calls for action on gun access… Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would quickly move to hold a vote on measures to extend background checks to almost all private sales and transfers, and address the so-called Charleston loophole. Both measures passed in the House in 2021 but have stalled in the Senate in the face of Republican opposition and a filibuster-proof majority. Despite saying hours after the shooting he would “do anything” he can to prevent a similar tragedy, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia squashed scrapping the filibuster to pass a gun-control bill, arguing on Tuesday evening that the filibuster was “the only thing that prevents us from total insanity.”
…as Republicans deflect on gun restrictions. Texas Republicans are calling for more armed guards, school hardening and armed teachers. ”We have to harden these targets,” Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said on Fox News yesterday. Both Governor Abbott and Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who said the answer to school shootings was more armed law enforcement, are scheduled to speak Friday at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston, about 280 miles east of Uvalde. Last year, Texas passed a slew of gun-related legislation — including making 18-to-20 year olds eligible for a license to carry a handgun, and permitless carry for people 21 and over.
Young lives remembered. Here are some of the names of the known victims who are being remembered:
- Eva Mireles, 4th grade teacher
- Irma Garcia, 4th grade teacher
- Amerie Jo Garza, 10
- Xavier Lopez, 10
- Jose Flores, 10
- Uziyah Garcia, 8
We’ll have more tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a list of ways you can help the community of Uvalde.
14 — the number of mass shootings — four or more people injured — in America between the incidents in Buffalo and Uvalde. [Gun Violence Archive]
212 — the number of mass shootings in 144 days so far this year. [Gun Violence Archive]
8 — the number of mass shootings in Texas that have claimed four or more lives in the last 13 years. [The Texas Tribune]