Some Uvalde victims' relatives hopeful, others unsatisfied by federal gun safety proposal

Community members say they're grateful for the progress but want more answers.

June 14, 2022, 4:15 AM

Three weeks after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, some relatives of students gunned down at Robb Elementary School say they're hopeful about the federal anti-gun violence proposal announced by a bipartisan group of senators Sunday.

But others say they're dissatisfied with the extent of the proposed legislation and the lack of answers in their community.

The agreement, if passed into law, would provide funding for mental health, including behavioral health centers, and create incentives for the creation of so-called "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people who are a danger to themselves or others; increase money for school safety; and strengthen the federal background check system as it relates to convicted domestic violence abusers or those with restraining orders.

Amelia Sandoval, whose grandson Xavier Lopez was killed in the attack, told ABC News that she has not been watching news coverage while she processes her grandson's death. But when briefed on the proposed legislation, she choked up, saying, "Praise God. This is just the beginning, but praise God."

Briana Ruiz, whose child survived the shooting, told ABC News that the proposed measures just aren't enough.

"I feel like it's a pathway to hopefully, eventually get to what many are asking for ... but the age limit should have been raised as well," she said, referring to the requirements to purchase an AR-style weapon like the one used in the attack.

Ruiz, who at one point was a teacher's aide in accused shooter Salvador Ramos' class, said she laments how an 18-year old in Texas cannot buy beer or cigarettes, but can purchase an AR-15.

PHOTO: Flowers are laid at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 28, 2022.
Flowers are laid at a makeshift memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, May 28, 2022.
Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Twenty-two people, including 19 young children, were killed in the attack in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

Some in Uvalde said the proposed legislation is important, but it's not their primary focus right now.

Monica Garza-Herrera, a relative of fourth-grade victim Amerie Jo Garza, said she was glad to hear about the federal framework -- but she said she's looking for local answers as well.

"What I want to know is what they're going to do as far as here in our hometown to change things for our students that are still in school," Garza-Herrera told ABC News.

She said there's pain in the community, and she worries about whether her grandchildren and her sister, who is a teacher in the school district, are safe. She also wants to know if faster action on the part of law enforcement could have saved more children's lives.

"Could they have been saved, even though they were shot?" she said. "Would they have gotten in there sooner? What do they plan to do about that? That's what I'm waiting for them to tell us."

While those answers may take time, President Joe Biden said he hopes to move quickly to get the legislative framework adopted into law. The framework has the backing of 10 Republicans, which suggests that, if adopted, the proposal would have enough votes to overcome its biggest hurdle in the Senate.

"Each day that passes, more children are killed in this country," Biden said. "The sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives."