AUSTIN (KXAN) — A teachers union marched Tuesday in an effort to get U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s attention.
The Texas American Federation of Teachers called the Republican senator’s response to the Uvalde school shooting “abominable.”
Exactly one week ago on May 24, 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed by an 18 year old with a rifle at Robb Elementary School.
Cruz went on Fox News after the shooting, saying he supports billions in funding to heighten school security. He blamed Democrats for stopping those efforts.
“I’ve introduced legislation to save schools like this elementary school behind me can get federal grants to harden their security to put in bulletproof doors, to put in bulletproof glass, to put in armed police officers to protect kids,” Cruz said.
He also suggested school buildings have a single door for people to enter and exit staged with armed police officers.
However, Texas AFT said it’s opposed to having armed school staff, calling it “an illogical idea.” The group instead wants Cruz to lead other senators toward “sensible gun regulation.”
Data shows five of the 10 deadliest shootings in U.S. history were in Texas, with three being within the past five years.
The teachers march began at noon at the Texas AFL-CIO building (1106 Lavaca St.) in downtown Austin.
Helping lead this group were two young girls around the same age as the Uvalde school shooting victims. They protested alongside their mom.
“I’m tired of it,” Brynn Rinehart said. “There’s no reason why 18 year olds should have been given access to this type of weapon.”
In Texas you can buy a rifle at 18 and a handgun at 21.
As the group chanted through downtown, it stopped at the steps of the capitol building. Supporters of gun reform held 21 seconds of silence for the 21 who were senselessly killed in front of the memorial there.
“When is it going to be enough?” Zeph Capo, president of Austin’s chapter of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said.
A signed letter pleading for gun reform was taken to Cruz’s office and handed directly to one of his staffers. It asked his office for legislative solutions now.
“We see nations that have had assault weapon bans that have been very successful,” said Education Austin President Ken Zarifis. “I’m not saying to repeal the second amendment … I’m saying there has to be something sensible.”
Gov. Gregg Abbott turned the focus away from guns after the shooting and toward solutions on mental health resources.
“Since Texas has been a state, an 18 year old has had the ability to buy a long gun, a rifle … so, for a century and a half, 18 year olds could buy rifles,” Abbott said at a press conference on Friday. “And we didn’t have school shootings, but we do now. Maybe we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”
Last session, Abbott signed a bill to let Texans carry a gun without a permit. Relaxed restrictions like those are another reason why protestors raised their voices Tuesday.
“Our elected officials, particularly in Texas, have proven to us that they’re actually making it worse, not better,” Capo said. “And we’ve got to do a better job as citizens picking who we put in those seats of power.
Critics said plans to reduce gun violence have been hampered by a lack of research into the problem and potential solutions.
For over 20 years, Congress banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting studies that could be used to advocate for gun control. That changed in 2019. Now, the CDC has received millions of dollars to conduct studies related to preventing gun injuries and deaths.