An Austin couple’s fear turns to frustration after a mass shooting in their hometowns

The couple with young children said current changes are not enough

A local couple with young children whose hometowns were hit by mass shootings over the last two months is grappling with grief and fear, and they’re demanding change.

An Austin couple with young children whose hometowns were hit by mass shootings over the last two months is grappling with grief and fear, and they’re demanding change.

Elizabeth Murphy is a UT Longhorn who stayed in Austin to raise her family. However, her hometown is Highland Park, Illinois, where a gunman opened fire on a popular Fourth of July party, leaving seven people dead.

“I can’t even count how many times I took my kids these last few summers to the same exact spot that was shot up. I had breakfast at the place where the window was blown out,” Murphy said. “I feel so deeply affected, and I wasn’t even there.”

Her family’s emotion has been pushed to the brink.

Less than two months before that was the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were killed. Elizabeth’s husband, John Murphy, grew up a town over from Uvalde in Utopia.

“Oftentimes, we’d go to either Hondo or Uvalde to do some grocery shopping if we needed something or also playing youth baseball or soccer,” John said.

They said becoming parents has changed everything.

“We have a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, so hearing about a school is different now for me. Everything is basically different for me now,” John said.

Their feeling of safety has dissolved, and their grief has turned into anger.

“My mom’s best friend’s daughter, my cousin’s nanny -- all the people that were harmed in this,” Elizabeth said. “To know the police had two interactions with this man, had to take weapons from his house, that he was given a semiautomatic weapon and do this damage, it’s infuriating.”

“I own guns. I love to go hunting. That’s OK with me, but what’s not OK with me is 8-year-olds getting shot at an elementary school,” John said.

The couple is glad a bipartisan bill made it through, but they said it just scratches the surface, and they don’t believe it will solve this problem.

“It’s only a matter of time before we’re running from a mass shooting,” Elizabeth said.

They want to see more requirements for all gun owners, including safe storage, proficiency tests and background checks.

“The way I see it is simple. People have cars, and cars are dangerous. But you can’t just get a car. If you want to drive a car, you’re going to have to follow some rules,” John said.

He believes there is more support for this than people know.

“Growing up in Utopia and Bandera, I do know a lot of people who feel very strongly about their guns, but I think even these people are ready to do something. They want to do more than what they’re seeing,” John said.

He challenges those who haven’t come to the table to pull up a seat now.

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.