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Kansans react to Texas school shooting, discuss changes they’d like to see

Public officials speak out about Uvalde Elementary School shooting
Public officials speak out about Uvalde Elementary School shooting(NBC News Channel)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 4:52 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Following Tuesday’s deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the conversation about current gun laws surfaces as some wonder if legal changes could have prevented the deaths of 21 people, including 19 children.

How do Kansans view gun laws? Eyewitness News spoke with people Wednesday, reacting to Tuesday’s shooting in south Texas and what changes they would like to see.

Looking at a survey of Kansans, some gun legislation does see broad support.

“When is this going to stop?” Sharon Moody said, “How many more kids have to die because we as Americans make some kind of progress to do something to control guns.”

Sharon Moody said she wants to see action and voiced support for measures like background checks, mental health services and limits on purchasing certain guns.

“There are ways to combat this. Thoughts and prayers, you know, I strongly believe in prayer, and I have great faith, but faith without works, without changing things, it’s not going to quit,” she said.

After shootings like this, it is hard to watch and feel like it’s part of a cycle. Moody said she doesn’t understand the argument that putting in these measures would mean taking people’s guns away.

People are always screaming and crying about rights and their rights being taken away. That they have the right to buy guns and that they have an ownership. They’re forgetting all about what these kids’ rights are. They have the right to an education. They have the right to not be having drills as to what happens when somebody comes in with a gun. They’re constantly bombarded with the evil of the world,” said Moody.

Doug Kinley is also among many deeply saddened by what happened but unsure of what can or should be done to prevent a similar tragedy from unfolding again.

“I can’t imagine sending your kid to school and him not coming home because someone shot him,” Kinley said. “…People, we need to do something, I’m just not sure what.”

While Kinley said he wishes he had the answer, he said the more significant issue is more complicated than just looking at guns.

“There are people who think it’s a gun problem and there’s definitely a gun-component problem, but it’s more a people problem than it is a gun problem,” he said. Adding, “What do we do? We have had a war on drugs, and now we have a war on guns, and what have we accomplished with the war on drugs and a war on guns.”

The 2019 Kansas Speaks Survey asked people in the Sunflower State about gun ownership. Background checks are supported by nearly 90 percent of Kansans surveyed. Preventing sales to people reported to police for mental health crises or convicted of a crime also had a wide margin of support. But regulations concerning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines received far less support.

“Still has more support than you might think for a red state but there’s a clear drop-off,” said Dr. Michael Smith, a political scientist at Emporia State University. “Kansans like to regulate the people who are allowed to own guns with background checks and permitting more than the guns themselves.”

The Kansas Speaks Survey also found most Kansans support a three-day waiting period for someone to take a gun home after purchasing it and require someone to be at least 21 years old to buy a gun.

Emporia State Political Scientist Dr. Michael Smith helps to consult on the Kansas Speaks survey.

While in the last year, the House has passed some bills looking at background checks, with the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate, they went nowhere.

He said one of the biggest obstacles for Congress to act is gun rights groups being a prominent voice against most measures.

“Many members of the public have mixed opinions on gun control, like so many issues. Even on culture war issues, a surprising number of people are in the middle. But when it comes to political organizing, the NRA and their allies are very, very strong and I believe it’s their grassroots strength and not just their money that gives them this strength,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith said there has been a change in tone and messaging from concerns about hunting to talking about tactical guns and gear in the decades.

“We really seen a transition from the mid to late 20th century when the NRA and other gun rights groups were really kind of preserving a way of life. At that time, more and more American kids were growing up in cities and suburbs, and the NRA was kind of like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and groups like that, wanting to celebrate the rural way of life and hunting and fishing and trapping as a part of that way of life,” he said. “We saw a transition, I think, in the very late 20th century of the NRA in particular with something that’s called insurrectionist theory. Insurrectionist theory, the argument I typically hear now from gun rights advocates, it’s not what you would have heard 50 years ago.”

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