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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Andrea Blanco

Texas mall shooting witness says he ‘loves guns’ but US needs to take action

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A gun owner who rushed to the scene of the shooting in Allen, Texas, to help rescue victims has said it is time for the US to change its policies regarding semi-automatic weapons.

Steven Spainhouer drove to the Allen Premium Outlets on Saturday evening after his son, who was working at an H&M store at the mall, texted him saying that there was an active shooting situation. Upon arriving at the scene of the carnage, Mr Spainhoeur told CBS that he found children covered in blood from head to toe, including a little girl whose face had been blown out by bullets from the AR-15-style rifle the gunman used to carry out the attack.

Eight people were killed before a police officer, who was at the scene responding to an unrelated call, managed to take down shooter Mauricio Garcia, 33.

In response to calls for “thoughts and prayers” from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other politicians, Mr Spainhouer told CNN those wishes fall short of addressing the concerning epidemic of gun violence in the US. Mr Spainhouer, a former police officer and self-proclaimed gun lover, noted that regulations in the purchase of semi-automatic rifles, such as the one used in the latest gun massacre in America, have never been of more importance.

“We used to have a ban on assault weapon nationally,” Mr Spainhouer told the network, likely referencing the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004. “We can do that at the state level. We can put red flags in place. we can limit high capacity rounds. We can stop putting weapons like the AR-15 in the hands of people that don’t need them.”

The victims have been identified as Christian LaCour, 20, Aishwarya Thatikonda, 26, Elio Cumana-Rivas, 32, Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8. Parents Kyu Song Cho, 37, and Cindy Cho, 35, and their youngest son James Cho, 3, were also killed.

Recounting the harrowing scene at the mall, Mr Spainhouer said he encountered a child begging for their mother.

“The child came under from who I beleieve was the mother, may have been a relative,” he told CNN. “And started asking for help saying ‘Mom! Mom! Mamma!’ so I took the child about 15 feet away so he or she couldn’t see the bodies. There was so much blood on their face, I couldn’t see the sex I just asked, are you OK? and checked for wounds”

He added: “The first Allen Police officer showed up and said, ‘Good Good Almighty.’ I said, ‘Take the child ... [They don’t] need to be here.”

Texas has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. Most adults are allowed to carry a handgun in a holster both openly and concealed, without a permit. Private firearm dealers in the Lone Star State are not required to conduct background checks before selling, despite three-fourths of Texas supporting such measures, according to Texas Gun Sense.

On Monday, a Republican-led Texas House committee advanced a bill that would raise the purchase age for semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. The Select Committee on Community Safety voted 8-5, with two Republicans joining six Democrats, to advance the bill to the full House after protesters’ chants of “Do Something!” echoed through the hallways of the Capitol building in the country’s largest red state.

For months, the push to raise the age has been led in the Texas Capitol by some families of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed in Uvalde when an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-style rifle opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom. Some families whose children were killed in the attack at Robb Elementary School cried following the vote.

Unfortunately, the measure is unlikely to become law. Gov Abbott has previously waved off the idea of allowing only people 21 or older to purchase guns like those used in many of the country’s worst mass shootings, including Texas’. But the bill even clearing a committee vote was unusual, according to the Associated Press.

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