Protesters advocate “gun sense” laws

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Kaye Mitchell and Terri Gregory protest outside the Texas Capitol in favor of ‘gun sense’ laws on Saturday. The protest included speeches from officials, relatives and survivors of gun violence.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

In response to shootings in Newtown, Conn. and around the country, protestors rallied outside the Texas Capitol on Saturday in favor of “gun sense” laws.

Speakers including elected officials, relatives of gun violence victims and survivors of gun violence campaigned for universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and against legislation supporting guns in schools. The protest was organized by Moms Demand Action, Texas Gun Sense and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Hilary Rand, a Moms Demand Action coordinator, said she felt personally affected after the shootings in Newton because she has a daughter in first grade. In December, a 20-year-old gunman killed 26 people — including 20 children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself. 

“It’s too easy to imagine my first-grade daughter as one of those students,” Rand said. “We don’t want to take away guns from law abiding citizens. We simply want to make common-sense rules.”

Scott Medlock, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and UT law school alumnus, said he joined the grassroots movement because of a close call with gun violence.

“I grew up next to Columbine High School,” Medlock said. “We moved to Texas the day before I would have started there. My sister would have been there the day of the shooting.”

Medlock said gun sense, as opposed to gun control, is about finding common sense measures everyone can agree on. For instance, he said, 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. 

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, said under current law, eight children are killed each day by gun violence, which adds up to almost “three Sandy Hooks per week.”

“The only comfort we can get is that Sandy Hook will be a turning point in how this country handles gun violence,” Naishtat said.

Kristina Morton, economics sophomore and member of University Democrats, said she attended the rally because although many people are in favor of universal background checks, some legislators still fight against them. 

“I think Americans in general are afraid of the words ‘gun control’ because gun control sounds like taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, but gun sense sounds less threatening,” Morton said.

Morton also said she opposes legislation putting guns on campus because it would not make her feel more safe.

“It concerns me because college campuses aren’t regular situations,” Morton said. “Because there are lecture halls full of students under a lot of stress who have had little sleep, I think it’s already a volatile situation.”