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Frustration runs deep as US marks 1-year anniversary of Uvalde school shooting

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-05-25 09:02
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HOUSTON -- The one-year anniversary of the school shooting killing 19 pupils and two teachers in Uvalde in the US state of Texas arrives on Wednesday, marked by deep frustration as gun violence appears more rampant across the country.

No city-sanctioned events are planned to mark the anniversary in Uvalde this week, citing privacy and security concerns. Even a scheduled city council meeting was canceled on Tuesday.

Though authorities urged outsiders to stay away, the city community reportedly plans a memorial march through the town as well as a vigil on Wednesday.

The Robb Elementary School, where an 18-year-old gunman committed the massacre one year ago, has been abandoned since then and is still awaiting demolition. Nearby there are 21 white crosses decorated with sunflowers and the names of the dead, serving as a memorial site.

"May 24 is going to be a difficult day," Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said at a news briefing earlier this week, suggesting local residents need "space and privacy to reflect on the last year without the fear of intrusion."

Throughout the past year, the families of the victims tried hard to advance a state law aimed to raise the minimum age to buy semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 used in the shooting, from 18 to 21 years in Texas. But their efforts have been stalled by Republicans who dominate the state legislature.

"Almost a year now, and honestly nothing has changed," Jesse Rizo, a relative of Jacklyn Cazares, one of the children killed in the shooting, told a Uvalde school board meeting held earlier this month.

"We're just a number (to politicians)," Rizo said. "Common sense tells you that you can't have kids and innocent people dying at the mall, at schools, at Walmart. It's just not normal for that to happen, right?"

Anger and disappointment are eating away at the families of the victims, media outlet El Pais USA observed.

Furthermore, the Uvalde massacre, one of the worst school shootings in US history, is far from the last tragedy the country has suffered, it noted.

According to Everytown For Gun Safety, an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence, in 2023 there have been at least 39 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, with 17 deaths and 30 injuries nationally.

US President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on Wednesday to remember those who lost their lives in Uvalde and reiterate his call for Republicans in Congress to act and help stop the epidemic of gun violence, said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who noted that gun violence has become the number one killer of children in the country.

Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly urged the US Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, saying that we "need to do more to protect our schools." However, it is unlikely that the divided Congress would approve the legislative proposal as the Republicans control the House of Representatives.

"Gun reform" only means making it easier to buy and carry guns in some US red states, led by Republicans, as mass shootings are on the rise in the country so far this year, a survey has found.

At least 17 states, most of them led by Republicans, introduced bills this year trying to make it easier to buy, own and carry weapons, providing guns to teachers and declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis issued last week.

The United States is the country with the most civilian-held firearms in the world. With less than 5 percent of the world's population, it accounts for 46 percent of global civilian gun ownership.

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