Opinion: DNA Kits Are Now a Substitute for Gun Control in Texas
In what is quite possibly the most Texas thing to ever happen, the state’s public and open-enrollment charter schools are now going to give parents DNA kits to identify their children in the event of an in-school emergency, reports Today.
This newest initiative is a perfect example of saying the quiet part out loud: very few school emergencies would render a child physically unrecognizable. A school shooting is one of them, as was the case with the shooting in Uvalde.
The new law, Senate Bill No. 2158, was passed in 2021 after eight students and two teachers were killed in a Santa Fe school shooting in 2018.
Now, students from Kindergarten through sixth grade will be sent home with a DNA kit containing a sheet for ink-free fingerprints and an identification card to store the child’s DNA. The language used in the legislation itself seems to consciously avoid talking about gun violence and instead labels the DNA kits as a tool to “help locate and return a missing or trafficked child.”
In an interview with Today, a former CIA and FBI agent named Tracy Walder, who is now a college professor, expressed her feelings on the new policy, saying, “You have to understand, I’m a former law enforcement officer. I worry every single day when I send my kid to school. Now we’re giving parents DNA kits so that when their child is killed with the same weapon of war I had when I was in Afghanistan, parents can use them to identify them?”
According to Fox News, some people have voiced their concerns about how the DNA kits are being framed in the legislation, as a tool to identify missing children instead of those who have been injured beyond recognition.
“While this is helpful in the event of a child going missing, at the same time, my heart sinks,” said a public school administrator from Massachusetts. “Seeing that it is [in the state of] Texas, where [the] Uvalde [school shooting] happened — it makes you wonder about the true purpose of these kits,” they added.
Parents from across the country have begun to weigh in on the new legislation, highlighting the message it sends to Texas parents about the priorities of students’ safety versus the prevalence of gun violence throughout the state. Although the kits are optional, many parents feel like the decision they’re being forced to make is one with no long-term solutions.
Many parents are also concerned about the ethics of the kits themselves with regard to the collection and storage of students’ DNA. “I have a hard time even grappling with this as a real thing that is happening,” said Texas parent Wendi Aarons.
People in states with similar levels of gun violence are worried that Texas’ plan will spread across the country. A mother and grandmother from Arizona predicts that these kits “are probably coming to Arizona next.” She also said, “This is a harbinger of where society is going. Even if the kits are for trafficked children, that tells us society needs help — quick.”
USA Today reports that Brett Cross, the father of 10-year-old Uvalde victim Uziyah Garcia, who has been protesting Uvalde’s police force and school system, recently commented on this latest development in gun violence “prevention” with a tweet:
The USA Today piece also reveals that similar DNA kits have been used in the US military since the early 90s to identify dead soldiers who have been maimed beyond recognition. Active duty personnel are required to provide DNA samples to the Armed Forces Repository of Specimen Samples for the Identification of Remains (AFRSSIR).
Gun violence in the US is so prevalent that it comprises more death and destruction than every developed nation in the world… combined.
With this latest step in the wrong direction, Texas has made it clear that they intend to help keep it that way.
This article has been updated for accuracy.