Uvalde mayor says focus should be on mental health, not gun control in wake of school shooting

19 children, 2 adults were killed by one gunman at Robb Elementary School shooting

Uvalde Mayor Don McLoughlin talks in an interview with ABC News about the school shooting that left 19 children and 2 adults dead at Robb Elementary School. (KSAT/ABC News)

UVALDE – A day after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School with a gun he purchased legally, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said the focus should be on mental health, not gun control.

In an interview with Amy Robach on Good Morning America, McLaughlin called the shooter a “sick individual.”

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“Everybody comes in and talks about immediately, ‘We want to do gun control. We want to sanction the gun lobbyist. We want to sanction this and want to sanction that,’” McLaughlin said. “But you know what? Why don’t you politicians get off your butts and let’s talk about mental health and let’s do something.”

McLaughlin told GMA that his heart was broken for the families and the kids. He said the need for mental health resources is something “we’ve been screaming about for a long time in our communities.”

“The city donated land. We’ve been trying to get this mental health hospital built here,” McLaughlin said. “When we have kids that are suicidal or kids that have thoughts like this or even adults, we have no place to take them.”

After Tuesday’s shooting, President Joe Biden delivered an urgent call for new restrictions on firearms. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer swiftly set in motion a pair of firearms background-check bills.

“Please, please, please damnit - put yourselves in the shoes of these parents just for once,” Schumer said as he opened the Senate.

McLaughlin said he wasn’t against expanded background checks but wasn’t for adding any gun restrictions, saying “if a bad guy was going to get a gun, he’s going to get a gun.”

“Right now, we’re spending billions down here on the border. What if we took that money and built facilities where we could treat the people in our home country? We got homeless people on the streets that have mental problems. We have kids that have mental problems, especially coming off a pandemic,” McLaughlin said. “Everybody taps a horn and wants to beat the drum, but nobody wants to address the core problem, and that’s mental health. Until we do that, this is going to continue.”

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there were no known mental health issues with the shooter, who was identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, and said there were no signs leading up to Tuesday’s events other than a few posts on social media before the shooting.

But Ramos’ classmates said he expressed “aggressive” and disturbing behavior in the past. He rarely attended school and didn’t socialize in the town of about 16,000, they said.

His social media posts showed him boxing or training for fighting, or with knives and guns. Once, he showed up at school with deep cuts on his face. When asked about them, he said they were self-inflicted, the classmates said.

Also on KSAT:

About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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