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Texas massacre: Grief fuels anger

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No chance to bloom The photo of Makenna Lee Elrod, a little girl victim of the Texas shooting that killed 18 other children, is seen among flowers placed on a makeshift memorial in front of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on 25 May 2022. Not for her and those who were senselessly killed for a yet- undetermined reason is a life that could have grown into something. | CHANDAN KHANNA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

UVALDE, Texas (AFP) — Grief at the massacre of 19 small children at an elementary school in Texas spilled into confrontation Wednesday, as angry questions mounted over gun control — and whether this latest tragedy could have been prevented.

The tight-knit Latino community of Uvalde on Tuesday became the site of America’s worst school shooting in a decade, committed by a disturbed 18-year-old armed with a legally bought assault rifle.

Wrenching details have been steadily emerging since the tragedy, which also claimed the lives of two teachers.

Briefing reporters, Governor Greg Abbott revealed that teen shooter Salvador Ramos — who was killed by police — shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before heading to Robb Elementary School.

Ramos went on social media to share his plan to attack his grandmother — who though gravely injured was able to alert the police. He then messaged again to say his next target was a school, where he headed clad in body armor and wielding an AR-15 rifle.

‘Pure evil’

Pressed on how the teen was able to obtain the murder weapon, the Texas governor repeatedly brushed aside suggestions that tougher gun laws were needed in his state — where attachment to the right to bear arms runs deep.

“I consider this person to have been pure evil,” Abbott said, articulating a position commonly held among US Republicans — that unfettered access to weapons is not to blame for the country’s gun violence epidemic.

Abbott’s stance was echoed by the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby, which issued a statement labeling the shooter as “a lone, deranged criminal.”

But the governor was called out by a rival Democrat, who loudly interrupted the briefing to accuse him of deadly inaction.

“This is on you,” heckled Beto O’Rourke, a fervent gun control advocate who is challenging Abbott for his job come November. “You are doing nothing!” “This is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”

Gun reforms

O’Rourke’s interruption came a day after President Joe Biden, in an emotional address, called on lawmakers to take on America’s powerful gun lobby and enact tougher laws.

Biden announced Wednesday that he would soon visit Uvalde, as he renewed his plea for “common sense gun reforms.”

In the shattered community of Uvalde, a small mainly Hispanic town about an hour from the Mexican border, there was outrage, too, at how such a tragedy could have occurred.

The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest since 20 elementary-age children and six staff were killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.

According to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, there have been more mass shootings — in which four or more people were wounded or killed — in 2022 than days so far this year.

Despite that, multiple attempts at national reform have failed in Congress.

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