Mississippi parent reacts to Texas shooting; hopes it will mean a change to gun laws

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 8:36 PM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 8:37 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The memorial outside the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas hits too close to home for Mary Helen Abel whose own son had his last day of 4th grade Friday. She described how she felt Tuesday night.

“I kissed cheeks and hugged boys more than I usually do,” said Mary Helen Abel. “And I do it a lot anyway, but there is a fear that comes over me as a mother when I think about children, the age of my child, going to a place where they should be safe and should be protected, and being killed, being slaughtered.”

Abel was a junior at Jackson Prep when the Pearl High School shooting happened and remembers learning throughout the day about what had happened nearby.

“I don’t think it ever occurred to any of us that when we were old enough to be sending our fourth graders off to school, there would be fourth-graders being shot at school,” added Abel. “It is, you know I’d like to say it’s unbelievable, but it’s not. It’s not because it keeps happening and it’s going to keep happening unless things change; unless something changes.”

Abel isn’t just mourning for those Uvalde families. She’s involved in the push to see change. She’s doing so alongside Mississippians, not just moms, who are tired of accepting these shootings as the norm.

“I’m sorry to say that in Mississippi, our senators and our representatives are not looking at this issue and taking it seriously,” noted Patricia Ice, Legislative Lead in Mississippi for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Legislation. “But we in Mississippi should be especially mindful of what can happen because it happened here 25 years ago.”

They say measures like repealing permitless carry and extreme risk protection orders are steps they believe should be taken at the state level. June 3rd is gun violence awareness day, a day that just so happens to coincide with a time when advocates are feeling empowered to keep pushing for changes to gun laws.

“And as my shirt says, we can end gun violence. It is preventable,” said Lorenzo Neal, Everytown Survivor Network Senior Fellow. “And that’s what we are here to do.”

Advocates will wear orange on that day to honor the memory of those lost.

“It empowers those of us who are advocates for gun violence prevention to raise the awareness to call out and share the names of those persons, those victims,” added Neal. “They’re not statistics. They’re just not headlines. They are humans. Their stories, their memories, their lives need to be highlighted, need to be remembered.”

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