IACHR Condemns the Mass Shooting at an Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States

June 1, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas, where 21 people—19 children and two teachers—lost their lives. In the face of this tragedy, the IACHR sends its condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to survivors of the shooting and to anyone who may have been affected by these events. In this terrible context, federal authorities and the state of Texas must urgently and comprehensively investigate what happened and its underlying causes and take immediate legislative action to prevent gun violence.

According to publicly available information, there was a mass shooting on May 24 at Robb Elementary School, located in the city of Uvalde, which has a predominantly Hispanic student body. An 18-year-old man carrying at least one semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and high-capacity magazines; after killing 21 people -including 19 children-, was killed by the police in the educational facility. According to media reports, the suspect legally bought two rifles only two days before the attack and just a few days after turning 18, the age from which semi-automatic weapons can legally be purchased in Texas. This attack represents the highest death toll at an elementary school since the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012.

The IACHR notes that this shooting happened just 10 days after the one in Buffalo, New York, where a man attacked a supermarket in a predominantly African American community and killed 10 people. The suspect was carrying several types of firearms and professed racist ideas, which allegedly motivated the attack, according to media reports. Additionally, the IACHR notes with particular concern that according to Gun Violence Archive—an independent research and data collection organization—, during 2021, 690 indiscriminate mass shootings occurred, that resulted in multiple murders and injuries. So far in 2022, at least 213 events of this nature have been recorded.

The IACHR notes that the current federal administration has adopted measures to control gun violence, mainly through the implementation of executive orders. In this context, the Commission reiterates the call on the U.S. government to adopt urgent and effective legislative measures, to eradicate the series of armed violence in the country, such as effective gun control. It has been noted that many scientific studies, conducted over several decades and comparatively, show that factors that lead to violent environments include easy access to firearms and therefore, a high number of weapons in the hands of individuals.

In order to prevent human loss, it is essential for the United States to implement more restrictive laws to control the possession and carrying of weapons. This includes restrictions concerning assault weapons, like the AR-15 type rifle used in this and other attacks, including the one that took place on October 1, 2017 in Nevada. Further, the State must take effective action to enable greater supervision of the issuance of licenses, registration requirements, and access to ammunition.

On the other hand, the massacre at the Uvalde elementary school shows the vulnerability of educational facilities and the serious impact of gun violence that children and adolescents constantly face in the country. Given a scenario with heightened risks for children and noting the special and reinforced protection that this population requires, the IACHR urges the State to immediately adopt all necessary measures to protect this group from all kinds of violence, guarantee safe educational spaces, and provide psychological assistance to families and survivors.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 122/22

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