Teachers in Austin slam Ted Cruz’s 'abominable' response to Uvalde tragedy

Teachers in Austin slam Ted Cruz’s 'abominable' response to Uvalde tragedy

Although Texas is a light red state that former President Donald Trump carried by 6% in the 2020 election, large urban centers like Austin, Houston, El Paso and Dallas lean Democratic. Sen. Ted Cruz’s strongest support is in Texas’ rural areas, where he has routinely voiced his opposition to even moderate gun control. But on Tuesday, May 31, the far-right Republican senator became the target of a demonstration in which teachers’ union members demanded that he support “sensible gun legislation” and take steps to “protect our students.”

The demonstration came a week after a horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed.

At the May 31 demonstration, members of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers walked from the Texas AFL-CIO building in Austin to the J.J. Pickle Federal Building, where Cruz has an office. Demonstrators slammed Cruz’s response to the Uvalde massacre as “abominable” and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, these dangerous guns have got to go.”

Some Republicans, in response to the Uvalde tragedy and other mass shootings in schools, have proposing arming teachers. But Ken Zarifis, who attended the May 24 demonstration and serves as president of the union Education Austin, is calling for measures that include comprehensive background checks and a total ban on assault rifles. The gunman in Uvalde used an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.

Zarifis told the Austin American-Statesman — a publication founded back in 1871 — “There are things that can be done.... that have been proven nationally in Indiana as well as Florida. Red (flag) laws that have been enacted by far-right Republican legislators, they should be enacted here in Texas. We see nations that have had assault weapon bans that have been very successful. There are things that can be done.”

Only four days after the Uvalde massacre, Cruz spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention — which was held in Houston this year. Cruz, speaking to an NRA crowd on Friday, May 27, reiterated familiar NRA talking points like “gun bans do not work” and “what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.”

Zeph Capo, president of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, was among the speakers at the May 31 demonstration in Austin.

Capo, during his speech, told supporters, “Two of our fallen colleagues will never go home. Nineteen children will never graduate and see their parents again. When is it going to be enough? When we say, ‘Our children are more important than someone's right to own a weapon, that should only be used for one reason, and that is to take human life.’ It's unnecessary.’”

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