On Tuesday, mourners gathered in El Paso to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the shooting that took place on August 3rd. The shooting at a Walmart was the deadliest attack on Latinos in U.S. history. For many in Texas, the tragedy in El Paso is another stark reminder of the grim reality of gun safety in the state.
The Border Network of Human Rights and other organizations planned yesterday’s bilingual ceremony, which included 23 crosses meant to represent the 23 people who were killed. Dozens of others were injured that day including the daughter of Pastor Michael Grady from the Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship, who gave an invocation.
In addition to commemorating the lives that were lost or wounded, many lawmakers and activists took the opportunity to condemn the extreme gun legislation championed by Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican legislature. Over the summer Abbott signed a permitless carry bill (HB 1927) that would allow anyone in the state of Texas who is over 21 years old to carry a handgun in public without a permit. The new law goes into effect September 1.
Speaking to KTSM-TV in El Paso, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar called out Abbott for his actions in the wake of the shooting. “I find it appalling that our governor – who gave El Paso his word that he would seek to keep guns out of the hands of madmen – has basically made it far easier for that to happen,” said Escobar.
State Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, who represents El Paso and is currently in D.C., spoke about the anniversary, as well as the other priorities of democratic lawmakers. “Legislators would have us believe that the government is the problem,” wrote Ordaz Perez. “That’s true when the priority of those in power is to keep their power. We must fight for gun control. For voting rights. For access to healthcare. For accurate curriculum in our schools.”
Organizations for gun safety like Moms Demand Action also paid tribute to yesterday’s anniversary, while calling for stricter gun laws. Polling from Moms Demand action shows that 81 percent of Texans do not support changing the permitting system for guns in the state.
One of the largest gun safety organizations recently announced a new initiative meant to combat gun violence on the local level. Everytown unveiled a Community Safety Fund, a $25 million investment for local programs to prevent gun violence.