Beto O’Rourke is right.

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke told Texas Gov. Greg Abbot and other Republican politicians after the mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. “You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”

Many of us also feel this same indignation. Compounding this anger and pain is to see the faces of the children, mere second, third and fourth graders. A collage of their young faces has gone viral on social media.

This is the second worst school shooting in U.S. history and it is hitting the Latino community very hard. Most of the victims were Latino as are more than 80% of the residents in Uvalde, Texas. The shooter, Salvador Ramos, killed by police, also is Latino.

Ethnicity and immigration status have nothing to do with this tragedy. It is disturbing to see reports that Texas law enforcement ignored Spanish-language media. It’s the duty of law enforcement to keep the public informed, especially in a border state like Texas.

This is about guns. The community and the nation are once again devastated to see so many young children senselessly killed.

We are not powerless. This was not an act of God or something we have no control over. The nation doesn’t need thoughts and prayers. Good guys with guns can’t prevent a mass shooting as evidenced by the delayed police response in Uvalde. There is a Justice Department investigation underway.

We need more gun control. Pro-gun, Texas lawmakers are to blame.

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez told CNN last Tuesday that the shooter legally bought at least two assault rifles shortly after his 18th birthday.

“He had no problem accessing those weapons,” Gutierrez said during his interview.

In Texas, you only need to be 18 to a long gun or rifle, such as an AR-15, which the shooter used. In most other cases you have to be 21 to buy a handgun, per federal law.

Gov. Abbot has supported Texas deregulating guns with open carry, eliminating gun permits, allowing guns on university campuses and even churches. 

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump joined the National Rifle Association at their annual conference in Houston Friday. They have blood on their hands. Abbot went to Uvalde but sent a video greeting to the NRA.

The hypocrisy is astounding. NRA members were banned from carrying guns during Trump’s speech at the NRA, per the Secret Service.

They grossly fail to take accountability for their deadly gun policies.

“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Sen. Cruz told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”

Well open carry and easy access to guns isn’t working. Making it harder to get guns will prevent crime.

Just look at how few gun deaths there are in other countries where they do have gun control.

The U.S. had 4.12 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That was more than eight times as high as the rate in Canada, which had 0.50 deaths per 100,000 people. It’s almost 100 times higher than in the United Kingdom, which had 0.04 deaths per 100,000. The lowest rates of gun violence globally includes Japan and South Korea with 0.02 gun deaths per 100,000 people. 

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut demanded action in a Senate speech after the mass shooting.

“This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day,” Murphy said.

He spoke directly to his Senate colleagues.

“Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority? If your answer is that as this slaughter increases as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing — what are we doing? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” Murphy said.

No major gun legislation has been approved by Congress in more than a decade. Two control measures were passed by the House last year, the ​​Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021

Both measures stalled in the Senate. They need 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster. Some  bipartisan discussions are underway.

“Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?”  President Joe Biden said after the shooting. “We as a nation have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” 

It’s time for Congress to act.

Teresa Puente

Teresa Puente has spent her career reporting on immigration and Latino issues in the U.S. and has also reported extensively from Mexico. Previously, she was a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and...