On Saturday, a few hundred gathered on the Texas Capitol’s south steps and lawn to demand that Republican Governor Greg Abbott call a special legislative session to raise the legal age of purchase for assault-style rifles from 18 to 21 or higher. The event included a large contingent of family members of children killed in the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, the worst school shooting in state history. Survivors and parents of the lost from the 2018 school shootings in Santa Fe and in Parkland, Florida, attended too. The rally was hosted by March for Our Lives, the nationwide gun control movement born of the Parkland tragedy that now connects an ever-growing web of the bereaved and outraged.
Javier Cazares, who lost his daughter Jackie in the Uvalde massacre, read a letter to be sent to Abbott. “Our kids across Texas are going back to school and are wondering, ‘Will I be Next?’” he said. “We demand that you call a special session immediately to raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21. Our children’s lives depend on common-sense laws that the vast majority of Texans desperately want.”
Abbott has so far spurned special session demands, which have been made through formal resolutions by the Uvalde City Council, County Commissioners Court, and school board. In meetings with bereaved family members, he has reportedly said that raising the AR-buying age would be unconstitutional and that mental health should be the real focus.
Berlinda Arreola, who lost her granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza, scorned the latter notion Saturday: “It is time to stop using mental issues as an excuse for these mass shootings when the reality is [we’re] making easy access for teens to purchase ARs.”
The Uvalde shooting, the Parkland shooting, the Sandy Hook shooting, the Columbine shooting, the Santa Fe shooting, and more were carried out by attackers under 21 years of age.
Kimberly Rubio, who grieves her daughter Lexi, gave a speech in which she described a young woman—“roughly 5’7”, she gets her height from her dad, she has the most gorgeous smile”—who recently graduated college, has now applied for law school, and coaches little league softball too.
“She came home recently and I asked her, ‘How are you gonna balance coaching and law school?’ and she looked at me, she said, ‘Mom I can do anything,’ and I said, ‘Yes baby you can,’” Rubio recounted. “Except she can’t. Because this young woman exists only in my imagination. Lexi Rubio’s life, her future, was stolen from her on May 24, 2022, because an 18-year-old had legal access to an AR-15. … Lexi will forever be 10 years old.”