Sabika Sheikh’s Father Has A Blunt Message For Trump After The Santa Fe Shooting
Abdul Aziz Sheikh — the father of one of eight student victims killed during the deadly school shooting in Texas — spoke out Tuesday to ensure another such tragedy does not occur. Sabika Sheikh's father called on Trump to change gun laws to protect all students from gun violence.
In an interview with NBC News, Sheikh said, "Nobody under 16 years can buy tobacco or alcohol, but he or she can buy guns. What is this?" Sheikh is correct for some areas — according to Giffords Law Center, the state of Vermont allows a person as young as 16 years old to purchase a handgun and carry it concealed, no permit required.
"You are in power, you are the government, you can make rule and law," Sheikh said to Trump. "You can amend your Constitution and you can change the law for guns."
Sheikh's daughter, Sabika, had chosen to study abroad at Santa Fe High School, located north of Galveston, Texas. The alleged perpetrator of the mass shooting attack at her high school is now in police custody.
A mosque in Houston held a ceremony for Sabika on Sunday; according to NBC News, her body was expected to arrive Tuesday in her home country of Pakistan.
In his interview with NBC News, Sheikh also highlighted a contrast he saw between international perceptions of the safety and stability of the United States and Pakistan.
Karachi or Santa Fe, they’re both safe and unsafe. But Pakistan gets highlighted as being dangerous and unsafe. There are dangers everywhere. Every place is both safe and unsafe.
Sheikh said he believed that his daughter "would be safe" in America.
He was not the only family member to express dismay at the circumstances surrounding Sabika's death. Her uncle, Syed Haider Ali, told NBC News, "They can’t make sure kids’ bags are searched properly? This is my request to the American people: make sure that your representatives act in a way that schools become safe."
Gun reform supporters and activists have been echoing that sentiment following the May 18 school shooting. Many of the now-public figures who emerged after the Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, immediately responded to this latest attack on teenagers and teachers. In a statement posted on Twitter by March for Our Lives, the organization founded by Parkland students wrote, "Though this is the 22nd school shooting this year, we urge those reading this not to sweep it under the rug and forget. This is not the price of our freedom."
Parkland student David Hogg held nothing back in a tweet directed at what he clearly sees as insufficient action on gun control on the part of politicians. On May 18, Hogg wrote on Twitter, "Get ready for two weeks of media coverage of politicians acting like they give a sh*t when in reality they just want to boost their approval ratings before midterms."
The response from Texas has thus far been markedly different from the gun control activism that emerged following the Parkland shooting. Sandy Phillips, the mother of a victim in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, told USA Today that no one affiliated with Santa Fe High School wanted to talk with her following the May 18 shooting. Phillips has visited the sites of multiple shootings in the years since her daughter's death, offering her support and encouragement to victims and their families. She said it was "jarring" how different her reception has been in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled discussions with school administrators, teachers, parents, and students with the aim of finding consensus on how to improve school security. But gun control has not emerged as the focus of reform in Texas.
That may be unwelcome news for Sheikh, who is hoping his daughter's death will lead to serious reform in how the United States approaches gun control.