Texas school shooting: US gun debate reaches boiling point as rivals engage in shouting match | world news

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The US gun debate came to a head at a news conference as two political rivals squabbled over the Texas elementary school massacre.

Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle – one of two he had purchased legally in the days before the attack – in the bloodbath at Robb primary school in Uvalde which killed 19 children and two adults.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott addressed an auditorium on Wednesday, blaming the shooting on a “mental health crisis” in the community.

He didn’t once mention gun laws, and the state is home to some of the loosest gun rules in the United States.

The Six Maps and Graphs That Show the State of Mass Gun Violence in the United States

Democrat politician Beto O’Rourke, who hopes to unseat Mr Abbott in November’s gubernatorial election, confronted his opponent, shouting: “You’re not doing anything to stop this.

“It’s totally predictable.”

Learn more about the Texas school shooting

‘Sir, you are out of place’

Much of what he said could not be overheard by loud heckling, with one onlooker calling Mr O’Rourke a ‘sick son of ab**** for coming to this and trying to d ‘make it a political issue’.

Another added: “Sir, you are out of place.”

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott the day after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States, May 25, 2022. REUTERS / Veronica G. Cardenas
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America’s gun debate reaches boiling point at press conference
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Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott the day after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States, May 25, 2022. REUTERS / Veronica G. Cardenas

Mr O’Rourke – a former congressman from Texas who tried to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 – was eventually kicked out of the room, but not before saying: ‘It’s up to you.’

He slammed the incumbent, tweeting yesterday: ‘Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas.’

Mr Abbott was endorsed for re-election as governor by the NRA in February, with the organization giving him a 100 per cent approval rating – and he is due to speak at the annual convention this weekend.

He is openly pro-gun and signed 22 laws last year that made it easier to buy, carry and own their own guns in the state, including a carry without a license law that allows most Texans from carrying handguns without training or licensing. .

By contrast, Mr O’Rourke is unabashed in his support for tougher gun laws, saying in 2020: “Yeah, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.

“We will no longer allow it to be used against our fellow Americans.”

After the press conference resumed, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said the shooting was “not a political issue.”

The NRA later released a statement describing the attack as that of a “lonely and deranged criminal”.

“As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to securing our schools,” the organization said.

Texas is home to some of the most gun-friendly laws in the United States

Texas laws that allow an 18-year-old to buy a gun “have been around for over 60 years,” Abbott later said at the news conference.

“In these 60 years we haven’t had episodes like this…why do we have them now?”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a press conference on the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas
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Mr. Abbott has been endorsed by the NRA

He said ‘the only thing that has changed is the state of mental health’, adding: ‘We as a state, as a society, need to do a better job of mental health “.

Texas, which has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the country, has seen some of the deadliest shootings in the United States in the past five years.

Why have attempts to change US gun laws failed?

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbott the day after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States, May 25, 2022. REUTERS / Veronica G. Cardenas

In 2018, a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in the Houston area. A year earlier, a gunman shot dead more than two dozen people during a Sunday service in the small town of Sutherland Springs. In 2019, a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso killed 23 people in a racist attack targeting Hispanics.

In a somber address to the nation hours after the Texas bombing, President Joe Biden pleaded for Americans “Rise Against the Gun Lobby” and enact tougher restrictions, saying, “When in God’s name are we going to do what must be done?”

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