Aaron Jordan adds to a sidewalk-chalk mural depicting the names of the people killed in the mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y. in May.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion

Opinion: In the wake of mass shootings, we are capable of demanding change

I urge you to fight for safety and push for stricter gun legislation.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/briannatong30/" target="_self">Brianna Tong</a>

Brianna Tong

December 2, 2022
Six months have passed since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Fla. — the deadliest school shooting the United States has seen this past decade. As citizens of Texas cast their votes for the midterm elections, Uvalde residents pushed for an Election Day shakeup that would redirect the course of the state’s gun laws, through a change in governor as the election is the source for the most immediate redirection.

Since May 24, Uvalde stirred up a national debate about gun safety, yet no stringent gun control laws have been implemented. In June, President Joe Biden passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill that serves to enhance background checks for gun purchases, school safety programs and mental health systems. However, the bill is limited in scope as affirmative actions are yet to be taken.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott dismissed calls to strengthen Texas gun laws since the massacre in May. This initiates a wave of concern for the safety of Texas as Republican control will only repulse gun control measures. Families of the victims assembled to voice their concerns for reforms at the state and federal level in hopes to prevent a tragedy as such from ever occurring again.

Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke was the key to doing so as he hoped to defy the odds during election season and outrun Gov. Abbott. O’Rourke lost to Abbott, but helped Democrats win 12 seats in the Texas House, two seats in the Texas Senate and helped boost newcomer Lina Hidalgo, the county judge of Harris County, over the Republican who held the position for nearly 15 years.

O’Rourke allies with families’ pleas to ameliorate gun safety laws which range from stricter background checks to pushing the minimum age requirements to purchase assault weapons to 21. O’Rourke publicly confronted Gov. Abbott’s inaction and lack of sympathy as he has waved off calls to tighten gun legislation. 

It is clear that one of the main issues on the ballot was gun control. As Democrats lost the House, the course of the next two years’ gun laws at the federal level stands on unpredictable ground. My question is, if we are not going to change now, when are we going to?

Abandon the partisan beliefs, the likelihood of whether or not Democrats’ focus on gun reform will or will not settle in a Second Amendment friendly state where guns remain pervasive. Are we distracted from the fact that the basic safety of our next generation leaders, our children, students like you and I has been blatantly violated by the fact that people are able to purchase guns whenever they want? 

The reason for our safety in California as of now is that we don’t have to worry about state laws protecting us students. But what about the students in Texas who are not fortunate enough to have the same protection, and those who have to attend school with anxiety and trauma of what may come? If a governor such as Beto O’Rourke can have a seat in Texas, all the other factors that restrict gun control legislation on the federal level, whether it be Republicans in the House or Senate, are eliminated as gun safety legislation on the local and state government can achieve such matters. 

My hope for the outcome of the midterm election is to see the change that will be both effective and executed promptly. I am appalled by the lack of effort still to this date, to push for legislation. I stand with the families, the students, and the citizens of Uvalde who wish to be protected. I urge you to be an integral part of fighting for the safety of communities and pushing for stricter gun legislation. With voices, with action, we are capable of change. 

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