More gun dealers than psychotherapists in Uvalde

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The small Texas town of Uvalde has more state-licensed gun dealers than New York City.

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

At one of those dealerships, Oasis Outback, the suspect in Tuesday’s shooting bought two AR-15 rifles, killing 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. They create the conditions where it’s so easy for someone threatened with violence to get that weapon and then wreak havoc,” said Josh Horwitz , co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions “We don’t have to live like this. We made a choice that people who are 18 years old would get assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and no permit. These are things that that we could do better, and as long as we do it. t, as long as we make those choices, more people will die.”

Our research found that Texas has the highest number of school shootings and mass shootings in the United States

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

Though this mass shooting — like dozens before it — has prompted calls for tougher regulations, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, when speaking to community leaders and lawmakers in Uvalde about the shooting, said their response was “straightforward and sensitive.”

“(They said, ‘We have a mental health issue in this community,’ and then they explained the scale of the mental health challenges they face in the community and the need for more mental health support around that region,” Abbott said.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan said that when the legislature reconvenes, lawmakers will have “a very robust discussion about mental health, as we always have, and will continue to support mental health in this state, and mental health in particular.” supporting health in the countryside”.

“Every community has mental health needs and these need to be addressed, and this crisis is another iteration of a mental health crisis that we are having in this state,” Phelan said.

Our research found that Uvalde is not alone in his lack of mental health resources.

Statewide, about 80 of Texas’ 254 counties have no mental health providers, according to our ABC13 data analysis of data from the 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 city’s population of about 26,900.

The town of Uvalde now has 12 state-licensed firearms dealers, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

After the 2018 Santa Fe shooting that killed 10 and injured 13 others at a high school, Abbott signed a bill into law creating a collaborative task force to investigate mental health services in public schools.

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

A 13-study analysis of state data found that 81% of Texas public school districts do not meet the American School Counselor Association’s recommendation of a maximum of 250 students for each counselor.

Our analysis examined data from the Texas Education Agency 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 have a single counselor or psychologist on staff. About 12% of districts have only one part-time counselor or psychologist.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District is just below the recommended ratio and has about 15 counselors for its 4,116 students, according to TEA data. That’s about 274 students per advisor.

INTERACTIVE: Want to know how many counselors and psychologists your child’s district has? Search on the map below. The districts in red do not meet the recommended requirements. On mobile? Click here for a full screen experience.

Although Abbott announced a list of agencies offering short-term mental health services to the community in the wake of the shooting, he did not announce any specific plans on how he would increase mental health access or availability nationwide.

Although access to mental health is an important part of the conversation, Horwitz said there is no question that access to firearms is leading to more gun-related deaths. He said when firearm sales increase, it creates a greater risk of gun violence.

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

Abbott also signed legislation protecting Texans from state gun control regulations.

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

Horowitz said it’s unfair to argue that certain gun regulations didn’t make a difference in mass shootings like Tuesday’s, because they could still make a difference to prevent potential future shootings.

“We now know we can save lives, and putting together a set of guidelines gives you an opportunity to increase your life-saving potential. There’s always an opportunity to say, ‘Well, this law wouldn’t have worked here,’ but it would have worked in many other circumstances, and what we really want is not one shooting (to stop), many shootings (to stop),” he said. “We need a set of policies and programs that work across the board and save many lives. We cannot save every life, but we can save many more than we can today.”

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. More gun dealers than psychotherapists in Uvalde

Dais Johnston

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