Crime & JusticeUvalde Shooting

Question of gun control comes to the fore after Uvalde massacre

By Lucia Leal

Uvalde, Texas, May 27 (EFE).- “We’re in the Wild West,” Deborah Bond says outside the shop that sold 18-year-old Salvador Ramos the AR-15 assault rifle he used this week to kill 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in this town of 16,000 people west of San Antonio.

“I came to see and that guy was walking out with his young child in hand and the AR in another hand and it’s just very disappointing,” she tells Efe in front of the Oasis Outback sporting goods store in Uvalde.

“It’s very sad to see people in there so happy about buying guns that destroy the body,” she says, before acknowledging that she owns a gun and inherited additional firearms from an uncle.

“But I don’t go brandishing them,” Bond says. “One is for home protection and that’s it.”

Shortly after turning 18, Ramos went to Oasis Outback to pick up two AR-15s he ordered online from the manufacturer, Daniel Defense, which offers 19 different AR-15 models that range in price from $1,870 to $3,390.

The AR-15 is a civilian version of the M-16, the standard-issue combat rifle of the United States Armed Forces.

Texas allows anyone 18 or older to purchase a long gun, even though federal law requires a person to be 21 to buy a handgun.

The store has remained open since Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School and seems unlikely to face any consequences for what was a legal transaction.

A few years ago, according to the San Antonio Express-News, an investigation found that Oasis Outback sold 10,000 rounds of ammunition in a single day to a businessman who supplied the bullets to Mexican drug cartels.

Though the shocking events of this week have encouraged some in Uvalde to broach the sensitive topic of gun control, nobody here is clamoring for a ban on AR-15s.

Located in a rural area about an hour’s drive from the US-Mexico border, Uvalde is represented in Congress by a Republican adamantly opposed to gun control.

Retired Border Patrol agent Efrain Nevarez tells Efe outside a church that despite having acquaintances whose children were killed at the school, he remains opposed to any new gun-control measures, including proposals that enjoy wide support, such as requiring background checks for gun buyers.

Shane Rehman, a US Marine veteran and friend of the family of victim Uziyah Garcia, says he would like to see a minimum age of “at least 25” to purchase an AR-15 and stricter background checks.

At the same time, he rejects the idea of reinstating the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994-2002.

Standing in front of one of the 21 crosses erected in the center of Uvalde as a memorial, Rehman says that civilians need access to such weapons so they can “assist” police in the event of Russian invasion or “any terrorist activity.”

Mexican immigrant Silvia Alvear, who has lived in Uvalde for eight years, tells Efe that no armed security guards are posted to the school her 7-year-old son attends, despite a recent doubling of the budget of the school district’s police force.

She confesses to not understanding how it is that the US strictly regulates medications, but not “guns, which can cause so much damage.”

“I hope that people, with this that just happened to us, change their mentalities, change their ideologies,” Alvear says. EFE llb/dr

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