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Teachers call on Ted Cruz to support gun control after Uvalde shooting

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A week after the deadliest school shooting in Texas, several dozen teacher union officials, parents and other education advocates marched Tuesday to the downtown Austin office of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, demanding he support “sensible gun regulation.”

Attendees walked from the Texas AFL-CIO building to the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, where Cruz’s Central Texas office is located, screaming chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, these dangerous guns have got to go.” People also held signs that read “Books not guns” and “Protect our students.”

The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers called Cruz’s response to the shooting “abominable,” saying in a statement that the junior Texas senator has been “beating a drum promoting the status quo.”

More: On Memorial Day in Uvalde, people flock to makeshift memorials as they await answers

On May 24, a gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde — the third-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Since then. Texans have flocked to makeshift memorials around the state to honor the victims, and some have begun organizing to press for lawmakers to implement more gun control or safety policies to prevent future shootings. 

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Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the Austin school district’s employee union, said arming teachers is not the answer. Instead, he and other attendees expressed support for universal background checks, a total ban on assault rifles, and called for red flag laws, which would temporarily remove guns from people who pose a risk to themselves or others.

“There are things that can be done … that have been proven nationally, in Indiana, as well as Florida,” said Zarifis, who attended the march. “Red (flag) laws that have been enacted by far-right Republican legislators. They should be enacted here in Texas. We see nations that have had assault weapon bans that have been very successful. There are things that can be done.”

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At the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston last week, Cruz said that “gun bans do not work,” and that taking guns away from “responsible Americans” would not make people safer or make the nation more secure. 

Cruz told the NRA that “what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys,” despite officials saying that armed police officers who arrived on the scene of the school shooting did not kill the Uvalde gunman for more than an hour while children pleaded on 911 calls for help.

Instead of universal background checks or an assault weapons ban, Cruz has supported the School Security Enhancement Act, which would provide grants for increasing security measures and infrastructure at schools.

“From His School Security Enhancement Act to his Protecting Communities Act, Sen. Cruz has introduced numerous pieces of legislation to keep our kids safe by improving background checks and securing schools,” a Cruz spokesperson said. “Moreover, research has shown that the presence of police officers in schools ‘decreases violent crime and disorder.'”

‘When is it going to be enough?’

On the way to the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, the march paused at a small memorial outside the Capitol with pictures of the victims and flowers to remember the 21 victims of the Uvalde shooting, and all attendees observed a 21-second moment of silence.

Texas American Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo said educators are experienced in delivering an education, skills and content, and they shouldn’t have to be “experts in hitting targets.” He said teachers are doing their jobs, but elected officials in Texas are not doing theirs.

“Two of our fallen colleagues will never go home. Nineteen children will never graduate and see their parents again,” Capo said during the march. “When is it going to be enough? When we say, ‘Our children are more important than someone’s right to own a weapon that should only be used for one reason, and that is to take human life.’ It’s unnecessary.’”

Brynn Rinehart, a parent of two children in the Austin school district, said she doesn’t want to take away all gun rights. However, she believes the government should make “sensible changes” to stop gun violence, such as banning AR-15 purchases or prohibiting people from buying a gun if they aren’t old enough to rent a car. 

“I wouldn’t be here if I was completely hopeless,” Rinehart said. “I’m running out of steam, but when I look at my kids, they’re 8 and 9 and they look just like the kids in Uvalde. I have to hope for them. I have to.”



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