More firearms dealers than mental health providers in Uvalde

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The small Texas town of Uvalde has more federally licensed firearms dealers than New York City.

Uvalde also has more places where people can legally buy guns than mental health providers.

It was at one such dealership, Oasis Outback, that the suspect in Tuesday’s shooting bought two AR-15 rifles and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.

“(In Texas) they have easy access to firearms. They sell assault weapons to anyone who wants them, anyone over the age of 18. You create the conditions where it’s so easy for someone at risk of violence to get that gun and make sure than for destruction,” said Josh Horwitz, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. “We don’t have to live this way. We’ve made choices to let people who are 18 years old get assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, unlicensed. These are things we could do better and as long as we do that” t, as long as we keep making these choices, more people will die.”

Our survey found that Texas has the most school shootings and mass shootings in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 4,164 firearms-related deaths in Texas in 2020, meaning that on average, one person died every two hours from a firearms-related incident.

While this mass shooting — like dozens of others before it — has sparked calls for tougher regulations, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said when speaking to community leaders and delegates in Uvalde about the shooting, their response was “simple and empathetic.” .

“(They said), ‘we have a mental health problem in this community,’ and then they addressed the magnitude of the mental health challenges they face in the community and the need for more mental health support in this community region,” Abbott said.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said that when the legislature meets again, lawmakers will have a “very vigorous discussion about mental health as we’ve always done and mental health in this state and especially mental health.” in rural areas will continue to support.”

“Every community has mental health needs and they need to be addressed and this crisis is a repeat of a mental health crisis we have in this state,” Phelan said.

Our research found that Uvalde is not alone with a lack of mental health resources.

Statewide, about 80 of Texas’ 254 counties have zero mental health providers, according to our ABC13 data analysis of data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Uvalde County also has more firearms dealers than mental health providers. According to federal data, there are seven mental health providers serving the population of approximately 26,900 residents.

Meanwhile, the city of Uvalde has 12 federally licensed firearms dealers, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

After the 2018 Santa Fe shooting that killed 10 people and injured 13 others at a high school, Abbott signed a bill that created a joint task force to study mental health care in public schools.

But four years later, our research found that mental health care in Texas public schools is no better.

An analysis of 13 state data surveys found that 81% of Texas public school districts fail to meet the American School Counselor Association’s recommended ratio of up to 250 students for each counselor.

Our analysis looked at Texas Education Agency data on the number of individuals listed as counselors or psychologists in relation to that district’s enrollment for the current school year.

We also found that nearly 8% of all Texas public school districts do not employ a single counselor or psychologist. About 12% of the districts only have a part-time counselor or psychologist.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District just falls short of the recommended ratio and has about 15 counselors for its 4,116 students, according to TEA data. That is approximately 274 students per learning path counselor.

INTERACTIVE: Would you like to know how many counselors and psychologists your child’s ward has? Find the map below. The areas in red do not meet the recommended requirements. On mobile device? Click here for a full screen experience.

Although Abbott announced a list of agencies providing short-term mental health services to the community in the wake of the shooting, he did not disclose specific plans about how he would increase access to or availability of mental health services statewide.

While access to mental health care is an important part of the conversation, Horwitz said there’s no doubt that access to firearms is leading to more firearms-related deaths. He said that as firearms sales increase, it creates a greater risk of gun violence.

While some states have passed legislation to make it more difficult for certain individuals to access firearms, Abbott signed seven gun rights protection laws last year, including authorizing “Constitutional Carry in Texas, meaning law-abiding Texans can legally carry a gun.” can wear without a license to wear.”

Abbott also signed a law protecting Texans from federal gun control rules.

“California still has shootings, but what California has done is a comprehensive system of firearms regulations, so they have a lower suicide rate, a lower homicide rate, and fewer school shootings than Texas. Texas, on the other hand, has said, ‘We’re going to make it easy for anyone to get a firearm,” he said. “We can do better across the board, but Texas is absolutely failing when it comes to the families they are supposed to protect.”

Horowitz said it’s not fair to argue that certain gun regulations wouldn’t have made a difference in mass shootings like Tuesday’s because they could still make a difference in preventing potential future shootings.

“We now know that we can save lives, and if you put some policies together, you have the opportunity to increase your life-saving potential. There are always opportunities to say, ‘well, that law wouldn’t have worked here,’ but it would have worked in many other circumstances and what we really want is not (stop) one shooting, (stop) many shootings,” he said. “We need a set of policies and programs that work across the board and save many lives. We can’t save every life, but we can save a lot more than we do now.”

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