Massacre in Texas: An issue of mental health or access to weapons?
After the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, some people say that this type of tragedy is only a matter of mental health. Is this true? (AP Foto/Jae C. Hong)

It is very difficult to measure the terrible tragedy that occurred on May 24 at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 young children and two teachers, mostly Latino, were shot to death. What was the response from Conservative leaders? Hold a conference three days later that promotes the use of firearms, precisely in Texas. Some people seek to justify this despicable gesture of insensitivity using the argument that this type of tragedy is only a matter of mental health. Is this true?

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An insult to the victims of the shooting

The tears of the Uvalde families had not yet dried when the National Rifle Association (NRA) issued a brief statement, expressing solidarity for the victims, but announcing that this will not stop them from holding their annual conference in Houston, a few hours away from where the tragedy occurred.

To add a touch of shamelessness, they asked attendees not to carry weapons when former President Donald Trump gives his speech there. All of this is an insult to the victims of the shooting.

The NRA spends millions of dollars annually to stop the advancement of laws that regulate the possession of firearms and to refute academic studies that link this type of violence with easy access to weapons in the country.

To achieve these goals and justify its fanaticism, the NRA typically invokes two arguments every time there is a mass shooting that shakes the nation:

1) These incidents do not happen because of easy access to guns. They occur solely because of mental health issues.

2) To stop mass shootings, they offer a solution of having more armed people.

Let’s analyze these arguments in light of the tragedy that occurred in Texas.

Mental health or access to guns?

People with mental health problems exist all over the planet. But the United States is distinct. According to figures from the World Population Review, since 2008 there have been 288 shootings in schools and universities in the United States. The next country on the list is Mexico with eight cases, followed by South Africa with six cases in the same time period.

It is widely documented-- the United States has something other countries do not. It's not a lack of attention to mental health. It is not the absence of people with problems. It is easy access to high-capacity firearms.

Salvador Ramos, who had no official history of mental problems, legally bought two assault rifles after turning 18 years old and just days before the shooting in Texas.

Is having more armed people the solution?

According to preliminary information about the attack in Uvalde, when Ramos entered the school and started shooting, some police officers went to the scene but said they were unable to enter because the assailant shot at them. 45 agonizing minutes passed before the arrival of a border agent, who finally neutralized the attacker.

Having armed people (the police officers) in the school did not stop this tragedy. Could it be that now the NRA wants teachers to bring bazookas to class?

If we don’t do something, there will be more shootings

The terrible tragedy of Uvalde is sadly not the first, and if we don’t do something, it won’t be the last. Does it make sense for an 18-year-old to buy two assault weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition without any restrictions?

The overwhelming majority (89%) of Americans support the idea of conducting background checks on gun buyers, but there is a problem. This is not to the liking of the NRA. Can we call this democracy?

In this election year, you have an opportunity to put a stop to these callous politicians, who don’t want to restrict access to high-capacity firearms and who put interest groups before the safety of our children.

Find this article in Spanish here.

Diego Barahona A.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas?