Students who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, joined young activists from Texas in a series of panel discussions on gun control last week.
Their vision for gun violence prevention is in stark contrast with state lawmakers’ plans.
The Parkland students are on a national summer road tour with other young activists. Their goal is to keep the gun control conversation going, and get people who care about that issue to show up at the polls.
Cameron Kasky was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a former classmate entered his school and killed 17 people in February.
He said the "Never Again" movement he and his classmates created is not calling for a “national collection of guns,” just some restrictions to gun access.
“This is us taking a problem that has not been fixed and saying, surprisingly enough, if you look at history, not addressing a problem will not fix that problem,” Kasky said.
Much of the town hall in San Antonio focused on bringing change to a red state known for its pro-gun-rights politicians. Panelists talked about common arguments, and starting a dialogue about gun rights.
University of Texas at Austin student Selina Eshraghi spoke against campus carry, the Texas law that permits concealed handguns on public college campuses, and advocated for a red flag law, which would enable a court to temporarily restrict someone’s access to guns. She lost a friend to suicide.
“Suicide by firearm is about 80 percent fatal. Other methods of suicide don’t even reach like half that fatality rate,” Eshraghi said. “If I knew that my friend … had access to a gun, and I also knew that she was struggling with her mental health, I could have flagged her and I could have made it to where she maybe lived another day.”
A red flag law may be gun control activists’ best chance at a victory in the 2019 Texas legislative session.
Governor Greg Abbott has asked lawmakers to consider it, but that in no way guarantees success. The Texas Republican Party’s official platform opposes red flag laws, and there’s very little political will in Austin to set limits on access to firearms.
The Texas senate committee on school violence, which was created after the shooting at Santa Fe High School claimed 10 lives in May, met for the first time June 11.
In his introductory remarks, chair Larry Taylor said the purpose of the committee is to find “all reasonable steps that can be taken to reduce the number of these incidents and then, yes, to minimize the loss.”
“You cannot absolutely stop when people have those kinds of intentions but we can certainly do what we can to reduce those numbers,” Taylor said.
The committee will hold its third meeting Wednesday to discuss what it calls the “root causes of mass murder.” Suggested causes include drug addiction and video games.
Analysts have not found a correlation between video games and gun violence.
Camille Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille