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Texas school shooting survivors step up calls for gun reform

Survivors of a recent gun rampage at a Texas school intensified their calls for reforms including tougher gun restrictions Friday, as several of their classmates were laid to rest.

Texas
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AFP |

Survivors of a recent gun rampage at a Texas school intensified their calls for reforms including tougher gun restrictions Friday, as several of their classmates were laid to rest. Eight children and two adults were killed one week ago when Santa Fe High School student Dimitrios Pagourtzis fired multiple shots with a shotgun and handgun inside his school in rural southeast Texas, also injuring 13.

Pakistani exchange student Sabikah Sheikh, 17, was buried Wednesday in Karachi. In Texas, the first three funerals were held Friday for substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale, 64, and students Christian Riley Garcia, 15, and Christopher Stone, 17.

The Texas students said they want mental health and school safety reforms, as well as “common sense” gun restrictions, such as legal mandates for secure gun storage inside homes and tougher background checks for gun purchases.

As Santa Fe worked to heal in the wake of the May 18 tragedy, a group of students there publicly called for gun restrictions, among other reforms, to combat the mass shootings that plague life in the United States. “The simple reality is that if we do not do something, another town will be ripped apart, like mine,” said Santa Fe High School student Megan McGuire.

She spoke at a news conference organized by the Houston contingent of “March for Our Lives” — the grassroots gun control movement started by teenagers after another school shooting in February in Parkland, Florida.

Read more: Texas school gunman ‘confused’: lawyer

The Texas students said they want mental health and school safety reforms, as well as “common sense” gun restrictions, such as legal mandates for secure gun storage inside homes and tougher background checks for gun purchases.

Their push contrasted much of the public reaction to the shooting in the conservative state, where gun ownership rights are fiercely protected and Governor Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign organized the raffling off of a shotgun before changing course after the tragedy.

Abbott held three days of discussions this week over how to better prevent school shootings. Among those invited were students and educators, and advocates on both sides of the fraught gun control debate. “We are not backing down… This is not a one-week thing. We are not going to let anybody move on from this,” said Bree Butler, a Santa Fe High School senior.

The students promised an unspecified series of public actions over the summer.  Meanwhile, memorials were planned in Santa Fe and surrounding communities through next Tuesday as the dead are buried.

Read more: Texas Muslims mourn slain Pakistani exchange student

At the funeral of Christian Riley Garcia, the teenager was hailed as a hero for holding a door shut to keep the gunman out.”He showed bravery far beyond his years. He took it upon himself to get everyone out first, making himself last,” said his obituary, read aloud during the service.


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