Melissa Harris-Perry: I'm Melissa Harris-Perry. Thanks for sticking with us on The Takeaway. With just under 16,000 residents, Uvalde, Texas is a small town. The kind with the adorable small-town vibe holiday movies are made of.
Speaker 2: We have ice skating that's brought to you by the chamber of commerce and various businesses in the area. We have horse-drawn carriage rides. Santa is free. Ice skating is free. The chamber of commerce is asking that you bring canned food because we want to help those less fortunate, but everything is all good for the kids and all family-friendly.
Melissa: This is what was bringing Uvalde together just five months ago. The annual Christmas at the crossroads and planning is already well underway for the annual Uvalde Honey Fest scheduled for June 10th and 11th, live music, a 5K fun run, and a kid's breakfast are all on the agenda or were on the agenda because maybe the Honey Fest will still go on, but it's hard to imagine how the run can be fun and hard to fathom how you can even lift your fork at a kid's breakfast where 19 little faces are missing, lost, stolen, and snatched by unthinkable violence.
To help us better understand this community, we're joined now by Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez. State Senator Gutierrez represents Texas 19th District, which includes the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and Rob Elementary School. Welcome to The Takeaway Senator Gutierrez.
Roland Gutierrez: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Melissa: I have a second grader and I know you have two daughters. I wonder if it was hard to send them to school today?
State SenatorRoland Gutierrez: Yes, absolutely. It doesn't get lost on me and it shouldn't on any parent or any rational person in the United States, that you should send your child off to school on any given day and not expect to see them come back home. I can't imagine what these parents were feeling as they came out of the center as each one found out this wailing and completely out of control as any parent would be. It's astounding to me that we're still talking about this and dealing with this in our country. We're supposed to fix things.
Melissa: Is this fixable? I mean we're just 10 days from the shooting in Buffalo and New York state and Texas have very different gun laws. Is it about gun laws? Is there something fixable here?
State Senator Gutierrez: We've done a very poor job on mental health in the state, on funding for mental health. We've done a very poor job of identifying these things, but I think that there are federal fixes. I think that there's state fixes. On the federal side, the Senate needs to fix the filibuster. This is unconscionable to do nothing. I don't know if we can go back and pass this up and repair it.
Certainly, to have a young man that's 18 years old just walk into a store on his 18th birthday, few days back, and go to a brick-and-mortar facility and legally buy two of these rifles, somebody, there should have been some kind of red flag, some kind of issue that would've been raised to determine whether perhaps we need to hold off on this. There's a lot of fixes along the way that could be had, but nobody has fortitude to do it.
Melissa: Uvalde calls itself a town at the crossroads because they're literally-- the two highways that cross at that place. I've been thinking about it over and over again, this idea that this place is at the crossroads. That it's La Frontera near the border. Is Uvalde our crossroad? Is it the turning point? Is it possible that we can find some way to do something here?
State Senator Gutierrez: I certainly wish it were, but I fear that in two or three days and four days, when the media cycle is done with this, this country will move on to some other issue. That is far less important than the one that we need to fix in our state. We have a governor who's fixated on a border crisis as he contends. I'd like to say that this was our crossroads, that this is the light bulb that flashes before us and we say, "Hey, we really got to get something done in a bipartisan manner at the state level, at the federal level." I don't know. I don't know if we're ever going to be able to get Republicans to stand up to the NRA and say enough is enough because they control the House in the Senate in Texas.
Melissa: What can you and other lawmakers do to ensure that school children in Texas have access to the mental health supportive services they need in the wake of this tragedy?
State Senator Gutierrez: No, that's the primary reason I went yesterday. You don't want to confound a community by just being out there. My initial reason for going out yesterday to see my constituents-- because my district is so vast. It starts in San Antonio Texas and it goes 400, 500 miles out to West Texas, smack there in the middle is Uvalde. It's a pretty good track. The reason for me going out there was to talk about-- we always talk about the mental health side when it comes to these shooters, but the mental health as it relates to the families and the victims and the children and survivors.
Our state still has professional consultants, psychological consultants in Sutherland Springs which is about 40 miles from my house where we had that shooting some two years ago. We're still reeling from those effects. These communities don't just fix themselves overnight. The news cycle might end, but we'll still be dealing with this in this community for years and years to come.
Melissa: Is there a way that media can be useful to communities in this moment?
State Senator Gutierrez: I think at some point, the media has this position of neutrality or they're reporting the news and I understand that, but I think that more people like Steve Kerr and others need to stand up and say this is enough. Matthew McConaughey, he's from Uvalde. He was raised in Uvalde. People need to stand up and say we must do something. Look, I'm a hunter, I own guns. I don't need an AR-15 to go deer hunting or bird hunting. I don't need these types of weapons. These are militarized weapons that are military uses in the field of battle. We don't need them on our streets anymore, we never did.
To these weapons manufacturers, they're never going to stand up to the plate and do what they're supposed to do. Number one, stop the manufacturer of these products. Number two, right now they should create a fund, all of them, for the victims of these families. All of them should stand up right now and create a fund. There's not an amount of money that's ever going to return a child back. By God, they should do something. These greedy sons of bitches. They need to do something. I'm sorry.
Melissa: State Senator Roland Gutierrez. Thank you for joining us today.
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