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WORLD | 26-05-2022 23:50

Uvalde massacre a painful déjà vu for gun victims' families

This week's gun massacre at a Texas school has poured salt in the wounds of families forever grieving the death of their own children, as they call in vain for stricter gun control laws in the United States.

This week's gun massacre at a Texas school has poured salt in the wounds of families forever grieving the death of their own children, as they call in vain for stricter gun control laws in the United States.

"This is just eerily similar to what happened at Sandy Hook... and the more details come out, the more similar it becomes," said Nicole Hockley, one of the founders of a non-profit started by parents from the Connecticut community, on MSNBC. "I've been in a state of shock, I've been angry, I've been sad."

The organisation, Sandy Hook Promise, posted the long list of US school shootings in the Texas attack's aftermath:

Columbine High (13 dead, 1999), Sandy Hook Elementary (27 dead, 2012), Santa Fe High (10 dead, 2018), Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland (17 dead, 2018), Oxford High (four dead, 2021), and now Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas (21 dead, 2022).

 

Heart 'torn open'

Described as a troubled adolescent with a history of self-harm, Salvador Ramos upon turning 18 purchased his first assault rifle.

On Tuesday he shot his 66-year-old grandmother before carrying out the assault at the Uvalde primary school, where he murdered 19 children and two teachers before police killed him.

In Sandy Hook, nearly 10 years ago, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother before descending, heavily armed, on the community's elementary school, killing 26 people including 20 children aged six and seven before turning the gun on himself.

"It's like my heart has been torn open all over again, and everything I hear just is echoes of Sandy Hook," said Hockley on Tuesday.

In the shooting's tragic wake, Sandy Hook Promise is once again reiterating demands for tightened gun regulations, which they say "can be done while upholding second amendment rights." 

The activist organisation's calls include improved background checks, bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, and a system promoting the report of potentially dangerous people.

Some 40,000 people in the United States die every year from guns, including 23,000 from suicide, according to the organization Everytown for Gun Safety.

Nearly 400 million firearms were circulating among the civilian population in 2017, according to the Small Arms Survey project – 120 guns for every 100 people.

 

'Horrific'

On Tuesday Sandy Hook Promise asked the question on so many minds: "How much longer can we stand by while innocent children continue to be killed?"

"We are grieving with the families of the innocent lives taken in this horrific tragedy," the group said in a statement, after having also reacted to the racist supermarket shooting that killed 10 in upstate New York less than two weeks prior.

"I am very angry," said Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the victims killed in 2018's Parkland shooting.

"We knew that this was going to happen. We just didn't know where," he said. "We know that it will happen again tomorrow. We just don't know where."

He said more than 250,000 people have fallen victim to gun violence since his 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was killed with an assault rifle.

Since then Oliver has founded Change the Ref, an activist organisation "to raise awareness about mass shootings through strategic interventions that will reduce the influence of the National Rifle Association lobby on the federal level.

He's not alone: Many family members of victims have actively advocated against the proliferation of firearms or sought redress.

In February, arms manufacturer Remington settled with the families of nine Sandy Hook victims, saying they would send US$73 million in compensation after having sold an AR-15 weapon to Lanza in violation of Connecticut consumer law.

And as they advocate for safety measures these families must also fight against right-wing conspiracy theorists like extremist Alex Jones, who has called the 2012 massacre a hoax.

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by Andréa Bambino, AFP

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