Texas schools are encouraging parents to store their children’s DNA and fingerprint records in case they need to provide them to law enforcement if kids go missing. For many, the rollout less than six months after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Txx. — brought to mind a grisly problem: school shootings, reports the Washington Post. One middle school teacher in San Antonio said that the word "missing" means a lot of different things.” After the shooting at Robb Elementary School in May, families of children who were unaccounted for lined up to provide DNA samples to help identify bodies that were torn apart by bullets. The 18-year-old gunman legally purchased two semiautomatic rifles and almost 400 rounds of ammunition to carry out the worst school attack in state history.
The free test kits — which are optional — were not explicitly linked to school shootings under a 2021 law establishing a “child identification program.” “A gift of safety, from our family to yours,” reads the message printed on the kits that were handed out to students in San Antonio last month. “Over 800,000 children are missing every year — that’s one every 40 seconds,” the text on the envelope reads. The move has prompted anger and distress from some parents, teachers and advocates of gun control, who would rather officials focus on tighter gun safety laws, background checks and better security at schools. “Texas Gov Greg Abbott is choosing to send DNA kits to schools that parents can use to identify their children’s bodies AFTER they’ve been murdered rather than pass gun safety laws to proactively protect their lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The rollout of the kits was seized upon by Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s opponent in the governor’s race. In a debate with O’Rourke, Abbott pushed back against raising the age limit for buying certain firearms to 21 in response to the Uvalde massacre. “We want to end school shootings. But we cannot do that by making false promises,” he said, arguing that the age restriction would be struck down by the Supreme Court.