Texas teachers union marches to US Sen. Ted Cruz’s office, demands gun safety following Uvalde shooting

“Arm teachers with school supplies — not guns,” a sign reads

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the Leadership Forum at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting held at the George R. Brown Convention Center Friday, May 27, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) (Michael Wyke, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers union marched to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s office in downtown Austin to push for gun reform in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.

On Tuesday — a week after the school shooting that claimed the lives of 21 people — the Texas AFT and other activists walked from the Texas AFL-CIO building to the Republican lawmaker’s office, urging him “pass real measures to #EndGunViolenceNow.”

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“It’s unnecessary. Our kids are worth more, our families are worth more, our communities are worth more,” said Zeph Capo, the president of the Texas AFT.

Since the shooting, Cruz has promoted physical security measures in schools, such as installing bulletproof doors and hiring armed officers, and said that gun control wouldn’t control crime.

Cruz has railed against Democrats’ calls for universal background checks for gun purchases and bans on assault-style weapons, the Associated Press reported. He pointed to broken families, declining church attendance, social media bullying and video games as the real problems.

“Tragedies like the event of this week are a mirror forcing us to ask hard questions, demanding that we see where our culture is failing,” he said. “We must not react to evil and tragedy by abandoning the Constitution or infringing on the rights of our law-abiding citizens.”

On the same day of the demonstration, the AFT launched the “Enough-is-Enough” campaign, calling gun violence a “public health crisis.”

The AFT said they are against arming teachers, a measure floated by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former President Donald Trump.

In Texas, a program created in response to the Sandy Hook shooting allows designated school employees to keep a firearm in a lockbox on school grounds.

At the end of Tuesday, a sign posted outside the Texas AFL-CIO building read: “Arm teachers with school supplies — not guns.”

The debate about tougher gun laws was once again thrust into the spotlight after authorities learned the Uvalde gunman was able to legally purchase two AR-style rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition just days after turning 18 years old.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the shooter, Salvador Ramos, did not have any known criminal background or mental health issues, but DPS Director Steven C. McCraw said Ramos had participated in conversations about guns and possible violence for months.

Ramos also shot his grandmother before he made his way into the school, where he barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom and opened fire for more than an hour. Two teachers and 19 of their students were killed.

One solution proposed by Texas Democrats is increasing the age limit to buy a rifle to 21. Right now, in Texas, 18-year-olds can purchase rifles but not handguns (21 is the minimum age for pistol purchases).

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has pushed back, though, saying that “ever since Texas has been a state, an 18-year-old has been able to buy a long gun. It’s only in the last decade or two when we had school shootings.”

Instead, Abbott placed the blame on not enough resources for people with mental health issues — even though Abbott recently slashed $211 million from the state’s mental health commission.

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About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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