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At the Hispanic Heritage Foundation we are profoundly saddened, outraged, and frustrated by the senseless slaughtering of 19 innocent children and two of their teachers in Uvalde, TX. Unfortunately, we are not shocked.

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

At the Hispanic Heritage Foundation we are profoundly saddened, outraged, and frustrated by the senseless slaughtering of 19 innocent children and two of their teachers in Uvalde, TX. Unfortunately, we are not shocked. Since that horrific massacre at Robb Elementary School only about two weeks ago, the United States of America has witnessed 33 mass shootings.

There have been more shootings than days of the year so far in 2022 – today is calendar day 158 and there have been 246 mass shootings. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens, killing more people 19-and-under than car crashes, drugs or cancer. Over the last 20 years, more school children have died from gun violence than on-duty police officers and active-duty military have died, combined. There have been 134 children 11- years-and-under who have been killed so far. 

My daughter is actually 11 years’ old. I used to worry about her getting her feelings hurt when she left in the morning for grade school … now I worry about her being killed.   

I am not alone as a parent, as a teacher, as a member of a community, as an American in worrying every single day. 

I hug my children too hard as I send them to school every day thinking that it could be the last time that I see them. Imagine being a teacher going to school every day knowing what they can possibly encounter. And, of course, being a child trying to learn under these circumstances.  When I think of PTSD, I’m also thinking about PRE-Traumatic Stress Syndrome as we fear the worse going to a grocery store, a place of worship, a school, or anywhere that can suddenly turn us into targets on a firing range. 

Yes, I worry. But mostly because an 18-year-old can LEGALLY purchase AR semiautomatic weapons the day after his birthday and 375 rounds of ammunition. One, how is that legal? Two, how doesn’t that raise a major concern? If you’re a bartender, you are at risk legally (and morally) if you “overserve” a customer because they can cause damage to themselves or the public. Yet, you can “overserve” a teen with more firepower than a soldier brings to battle? And since I’m on this analogy, you actually have to be 21 years old to buy alcohol. Or cigarettes. But not a weapon of mass destruction.     

Yet, there is a fight over whether to raise the gun-buying age to equal the age to buy cigarettes or alcohol, although the shootings in Uvalde, Tulsa, and Buffalo were all done by shooters under 21 years of age. 

Getting a license to drive a car is seems more arduous than getting a gun license and subsequent access to an AR 15, which fires 45 rounds per minute. Try buying cold medicine these days and other items that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. There is a process in place because, in the wrong hands, a car, cold medicine, and, yes, a gun can be extremely dangerous.  That’s why we need to take extra precautions.  

Taking simple, common-sense measures to create much safer circumstances for all Americans including our children doesn’t take away the rights of gun owners. As President Biden said, “This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights, it’s about protecting children and families.”

When I hear the issue of mental health being brought up by politicians who in the same breath cut mental health funding which is desperately needed — I am even more concerned by the politics vs morality battle in addressing this critical issue.  It’s been 10 years since babies were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a disturbed young man with access to semi-automatic weapons and I’m appalled that nothing has really changed. 

We can’t wait another 10 years of countless more children being killed in what has become a weekly and even daily tragedy. We can’t allow outrage to turn into the ordinary. We can’t allow lives lost to become just numbers.  We can’t continue to simply be frustrated, saddened, traumatized, and horrified. 

I want to believe in the surprising bipartisanship being fomented by elected officials after the most recent spate of gun violence to finally address this issue and pray that “working together” is in the plans to clear away the ominous dark clouds representing an existential threat to everyday Americans having a right to be able to worship, shop, learn, or live without gun violence.

Antonio Tijerino

President & CEO


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