rainn.png
Thursday July 7th, 2022 6:11AM

Gun debate missing from Texas hearings on Uvalde shooting

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The first public hearings in Texas looking into the Uvalde school massacre have focused on a cascade of law enforcement blunders, school building safety and mental health care with only scant mentions of the shooter’s AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and gun reform.

A day after the head of the Texas state police called the law enforcement response to the May 24 slaughter an “abject failure,” Texas senators on Wednesday turned their attention to mental health funding for schools and a shortage of counselors and mental health providers.

So far, lawmakers and witnesses at the hearings in the Texas Capitol have barely mentioned the gun debate. During one of the few times it did come up, Democratic Sen. Jose Menendez asked Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, whether the attacker could have done as much damage with a bat, knife or revolver.

“No,” McCraw said.

The bungled response to the attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead at Robb Elementary has infuriated the nation, and a recent wave of deadly mass shootings has renewed a push for more gun laws.

By week's end, the U.S. Senate could pass new legislation that would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers and require more sellers to conduct background checks.

The hearing Wednesday in Texas had barely started when lawmakers not on the committee sparred over what guns should be allowed in the state Capitol, where handguns are, and rifles are not. Rep. Gina Hinojosa, a Democrat, tweeted that lawmakers should “be real about our ability to keep public safe from AR-15s.” Briscoe Cain, one of the most conservative members of the House, replied that long rifles “should not be banned at the Capitol.”

Outside the Texas Senate chamber, nearly two dozen members of the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America lined the entry way, holding signs criticizing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and urging lawmakers to consider new restrictions on gun sales and ownership.

“We are tired of these do-nothing committees and roundtables that have been happening after every mass shooting in Texas,” said Melanie Greene of Austin. “They talk about what went wrong and it's usually everything but guns. We’re tired of all the talk and we want some action.”

The group wants lawmakers to consider raising the age of gun ownership from 18 to 21 years old, background checks on all gun sales and a ‘red flag’ law to allow authorities to take weapons from those deemed to be a danger. The gunman at Robb Elementary was an 18-year-old former student, Salvador Ramos.

Greene is not optimistic. “This committee is a dog-and-pony show. It’s performative political theater. But we’re not going to give up,” Greene said.

Texas doesn’t require a permit to carry a long rifle like the one used in Uvalde. Last year, lawmakers made it legal for anyone 21 and older to carry a handgun in public without a license, background check or training.

The state’s Republican-dominated legislature has spent the last decade chipping away at restrictions on handguns even as Texas suffered a series of mass shootings that have left more than 85 dead in the past five years — an El Paso Walmart, a church in Sutherland Springs, at Santa Fe High School outside Houston and in the West Texas oil country.

Republican Sen. Bob Hall tried to steer the opening hearing away from any talk about guns.

“It doesn’t take a gun. This man had enough time to do it with his hands, or a baseball bat. And so it’s not the gun, it’s the person,” Hall said Tuesday.

Sen. Royce West, one of the Senate panel’s few Democrats to raise the issue of gun control, said that “without having a discussion about those rights and limits associated therewith, this will be an incomplete discussion.”

Still, it’s the delays and mistakes in the law enforcement response at Robb Elementary School that are the focus of federal, state and local investigations.

The state’s public safety chief said Tuesday that police had enough officers and firepower at the school to stop Ramos three minutes after he entered the building but they instead waited more than an hour before storming the classroom and killing him.

McCraw outlined a series of missed opportunities, communication breakdowns and errors based on an investigation that has included roughly 700 interviews. He also directed much of the blame at Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who McCraw said was the commander in charge.

Arredondo, who testified Tuesday at a closed-door hearing of a Texas House committee, has said he didn’t consider himself in charge and assumed someone else had taken control. He has declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Uvalde’s mayor pushed back on McCraw’s casting blame on Arredondo, saying the Department of Public Safety has repeatedly put out false information about the shooting and glossed over the role of its own officers.

Public pressure has grown for state and local officials to release more information.

On Wednesday, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, filed a lawsuit seeking to force the Texas Department of Public Safety to turn over its records related to its investigation into the shooting. The victims’ families “deserve to know the complete, unalterable truth about what happened that day,” a lawyer for the Democrat wrote in the suit.

___

Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, contributed to this report.

___

Find more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ukraine expects EU-wide support for candidacy to join bloc
A Ukrainian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union says she’s “100%” certain all 27 EU nations will approve making Ukraine a candidate for membership in the bloc
12:39PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Title IX: Strides for women of color in sports lag under law
In the 50 years since the landmark law was passed, profound strides have been made in women and girls’ participation in sports
12:39PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Gun debate missing from Texas hearings on Uvalde shooting
The first public hearings in Texas looking into the Uvalde school massacre have centered on law enforcement blunders, school building safety and mental health
12:38PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US importing baby formula from Mexico to ease shortage
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing logistical support to import the equivalent of about 16 million 8-ounce baby formula bottles from Mexico
11:56AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Yellowstone park reopens after changes wrought by flood
Hundreds of cars, trucks and recreational vehicles are backed up in long lines at entrances to Yellowstone National Park as it partially reopens following destructive floods that closed the park last week
11:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
Wisconsin GOP lawmakers set to reject repeal of abortion ban
Republican legislators in Wisconsin are expected to meet but quickly adjourn a special session that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called to repeal the state's dormant abortion ban without taking any action
11:14AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Microsoft: Russian cyber spying targets 42 Ukraine allies
Microsoft says “strategic espionage” by state-backed Russian hackers has targeted government agencies, think tanks, businesses and aid groups in 42 countries supporting Ukraine
11:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
'Groundhog Day' at IRS: Returns pile up, phone delays worsen
An IRS watchdog says customer service issues are worsening at the tax-return-processing agency
10:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
In climate fight, EU lawmakers back stricter emission caps
European Union lawmakers are requiring deeper emission cuts from power plants, factories and planes in Europe while endorsing an unprecedented import tax to step up the fight against global warming
10:36AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Asian shares mostly lower despite Wall St rally; eyes on Fed
Asian shares are mostly lower as markets shrug off a Wall Street rally and await the congressional testimony of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
12:27AM ( 12 hours ago )
GOP lawmakers poised to end special session on abortion ban
Republican legislators in Wisconsin are expected to meet but quickly adjourn a special session Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called to repeal the state's dormant abortion ban without taking any action
11:51PM ( 12 hours ago )
Britt wins tumultuous Alabama Senate race scrambled by Trump
Katie Britt has won the Republican nomination for Senate in Alabama, defeating six-term Congressman Mo Brooks in a primary runoff after former President Donald Trump endorsed and then un-endorsed him
11:26PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
From 'carp' to 'copi': unpopular fish getting a makeover
If “invasive carp” doesn't sound appetizing, how about a plate of copi
12:32PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Afghanistan quake kills 1,000 people, deadliest in decades
Afghanistan's state-run news agency reported a powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of the country's east, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more
12:08PM ( 40 minutes ago )
James Rado, who co-created groundbreaking ‘Hair,’ dies at 90
James Rado, co-creator of the groundbreaking hippie musical “Hair,” which celebrated protest, pot and free love and paved the way for the sound of rock on Broadway, has died
12:02PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Myanmar's Suu Kyi moved from secret location to prison
Legal officials say ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been transferred from a secret detention location to a prison in the country’s capital
12:00PM ( 48 minutes ago )
US importing baby formula from Mexico to ease shortage
The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing logistical support to import the equivalent of about 16 million 8-ounce baby formula bottles from Mexico
11:56AM ( 52 minutes ago )