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UVALDE — ONE YEAR LATER: A conversation with East Texans

East Texans shared how they’re feeling one year after the tragedy in Uvalde.

TYLER, Texas — It's been one year since tragedy and terror struck the small Texas town of Uvalde

CBS19 took two chairs to a park in Tyler to hear from East Texans to find out how they're feeling on this somber day.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing or seeing on the news," said Joyia Sells. 

Roland Aaron adds he never expected to see a mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, but “yet again, it’s happened countless times.”

“It should have never happened. It should have never ever happened," Trinity Morrow said.

They shared their thoughts on some possible solutions to ending gun violence in schools across the country. 

“What we continue to do is what we’ve been doing already," Aaron said. “You don’t want to cause fear in children, you don’t want to set metal detectors. You don’t want to put guns in teachers’ hand, students even."

Morrow expressed her concerns about having teachers armed in classrooms. 

“I don’t think it’s safe either way there’s going to be a gun in the school," Morrow said. "If they want to use it, they’re going to find a way to use it. If arming teachers isn’t a solution, what would make you comfortable as a parent?”

“I don’t even know honestly. If you put the things back in school that they took out, like prayer, it will help the situation," Morrow added. 

Aaron mentioned schools are implementing strategies to keep schools safe, but he doesn't think that's the real issue. 

“Let’s have metal detectors, let’s raise the age (to buy a gun) to 21," Aaron said. "I don’t think people are asking the real questions about what the real problem is. It’s mental health, that’s really the big factor for me." 

Others also pointed out mental health issues could lead to mass shootings in America.

“Treat mental illness -- more awareness with gun control," Ilene Merchant said. "It seems like it’s so easy and they’re everywhere and easy to get."

Others mentioned there should be more gun reform. 

“[There's] just the easy access," Sells said. "Anyone can just go and get one and open carry."

She started homeschooling her kids after the pandemic. She was never really concerned with the possibility of a school shooting beforehand. 

Now she says it's an additional reason to keep her kids away from public school. She said she's doesn't think she'll ever let her kids go back to public school. 

“I’m not confident in the laws," Sells said. "’m not confident at all." 

Many parents are having open conversations with their children about the world around them.

“We just have an open dialogue," Sells said. "We do watch the news and I just ask them, ‘do you know what’s going on?’ I know it seems scary and it can be, and it is,."

Merchant adds parents should feel safe to send their children to school, but it’s not a 100% safe feeling.

“I believe I am a Christian so that’s something I believe God will protect my children, but on a real note, the only thing I can do is hope for the best," Aaron said. "Now even the best school isn’t safe."

Morrow says too many kids and teachers had to go through tragic circumstances and loss, such as in Uvalde. 

“The Uvalde families are in our thoughts, thinking about them during this time," Sells said. 

More coverage surrounding the conversation around school safety through the legislative session can be found HERE along with what local school districts are doing on their own to protect students.

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