Leaders plead for action on Texas gun laws after Uvalde tragedy

Daniela Hurtado Image
Friday, June 10, 2022
Action 13: Uvalde School Tragedy town hall
Join ABC13's Ted Oberg and Daniela Hurtado for an Action 13 town hall, answering your concerns about school safety and gun violence after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two weeks after the nation's second deadliest school shooting, there are still so many unanswered questions.

Thursday, ABC13's Daniela Hurtado and 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg gathered a panel of leaders and experts for an Action 13 town hall, answering your concerns about school safety in the wake of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

"The biggest failure was the isolate, distract and neutralize, as quickly as possible, the active shooter," Republican State Rep. Dan Huberty said. "If the police aren't going to engage or the responders aren't going to engage in it, it's very different."

The shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers was the seventh of nine total school shooting in Texas this year alone.

The president of Texas' oldest education organization said Thursday that teachers across the state want to see action, not more conversations after the Uvalde massacre.

"We need changes so that people that are dangerous don't get the weapons that cause this kind of tragedy," TSTA president Ovidia Molina said. "We want to make sure that our students feel safe, that our schools do not feel like prisons, that our children love to come to school and aren't afraid to do so."

Throughout the hour, our panel explored a multitude of issues related to school shootings, from reforming safety training for school districts to expanding access to mental health services, especially to rural communities statewide.

Most panelists, however, said there is an urgency to address Texas gun laws to curb these deadly acts of violence.

WATCH: How should the Texas legislature respond to Uvalde?

Republican State Rep. Dan Huberty (left) and Democratic State Rep. Jon Rosenthal (right) made specific recommendations for securing schools Thursday during ABC13's "Action 13: Uvalde School Tragedy" town hall.

"I think there is no question the problem is the easy access to these horrific weapons by people who shouldn't have them, so we should address that first," Democratic State Rep. Jon Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal suggested lawmakers should immediately raise the age to buy semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21, and strengthen background checks to purchase firearms.

"In the past several cycles, the Texas state legislature has loosened gun laws, and as a direct response to that, we've had an increase in gun violence," Rosenthal said. "Evil exists and when we make it totally easy for evil people to get weapons of destruction like this, that is a recipe for disaster."

From across the political aisle, Huberty said raising the age limit to purchase semiautomatic weapons was "reasonable," but encouraged a multifaceted approach to hardening schools, including additional funding to provide more school counselors and police to communities, in addition to the tactical gear necessary to respond to these events.

Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department named a team of experts tasked with investigating the police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.

Earlier this week, ABC News reported the families of four Uvalde shooting victims are suing the estate of the suspected gunman.

The father of 10-year-old victim Amerie Jo Garza has also retained lawyers who helped the families of the deadly 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School victims sue a U.S. rifle maker.

Since 2013, Texas has led the nation in school shootings, according to research by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that formed after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. The Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line can be reached at 833-986-1919.

Viewers can watch the town hall anywhere they stream Eyewitness News, including on Roku and Fire TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."