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State Sen. Roland Gutierrez announces legislation to increase school safety, create monument for victims

State senator files bill aimed at 'getting justice' for Uvalde families
State senator files bill aimed at 'getting justice' for Uvalde families 02:01

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - With the families of some victims of the Uvalde and Santa Fe school massacres standing behind him, State Sen. Roland Gutierrez announced a package of bills to the Texas Senate aimed at preventing mass shootings. 

Uvalde Families Grieve For Loved Ones Killed In School Mass Shooting
UVALDE, TEXAS - JUNE 02: Flowers and messages are seen at a memorial dedicated to the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on June 2, 2022 in Uvalde. / Getty Images

The historic bills he's proposing would fix radio interoperability in rural counties, increase school safety, and improve emergency response protocols between state and local public safety entities.

"Imagine that, it's 2022 – not one damn radio worked inside that building [referring to Uvalde mass shooting]. Cops were out there playing telephone trying to figure out what was going on. Complete and utter failure," Sen. Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also proposed moving a statue of a Confederate general at the Texas State Cemetery and putting up a monument to mass shooting victims in its place. 

"We should honor the kids that we failed so that we never forget them," said Gutierrez. 

Additionally, he will make an appropriations request to provide funding for safety measures in schools and mental healthcare, according to a news release.

"We must get some solutions to some of the problems that are happening in this state," said Gutierrez. 

This is the second release of several expected packages of Uvalde legislation. Two weeks ago, Gutierrez released legislation that focuses on increasing state and local accountability, removing qualified immunity, and providing compensation for affected survivors and families.  

Families from Uvalde have urgently pleaded for tougher gun laws in the wake of the May 24, 2022 massacre. That day, nineteen children and two teachers were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School. 

The proposals sought by Uvalde parents include increasing the age to purchase semiautomatic rifles like the one used in the May attack from 18 to 21 — the state's current age limit to buy a handgun. Another would open avenues for families to sue officers who don't do their duty. An investigative report by state lawmakers subsequently found that nearly 400 officers waited in a hallway and outside more than an hour to breach the classroom where the gunman was shooting.

Slain Uvalde teacher Irma Garcia was shot 11 times from her head to her legs with an AR-15-style rife, her sister, Marisol Lozano, said. She recalled seeing her sister's face and hands reconstructed for the funeral to hide the bullet wounds. Garcia's husband, Joe Garcia, died of a heart attack shortly after the shooting.

"I wonder if it had been 21 abortions being performed in those classrooms, if our elected officials would step in and do the right thing?" Lozano has said, referencing restrictions that state lawmakers have enacted over the years, including one of the strictest abortion bans in the U.S.

Faith Mata, whose sister Tess was killed in the Uvalde shooting also spoke to members of Congress last year.

"She will never graduate high school, never fall in love herself, never be present at my wedding. We will never know how scared she was in her last moments in that classroom," said Mata of her sister, who was in the fourth grade when she was murdered. 

Mata, 21, and seven other people testified at a House Judiciary Committee in Dec. 2022. 

"Are we not tired yet of hearing another tragedy because of gun violence? When is enough, enough? I truly hope this never happens to another family," she told law makers. 

But Democrats and Republicans remain far apart when it comes to any new gun reform bills.

Gutierrez however, remains resolute. 

"It must not ever happen again."

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