Before the gubernatorial debate between Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke in the Rio Grande Valley, the parents of several Robb Elementary students stepped up to the microphone to voice their opinions on one of the state’s most divisive topics: gun control.
It’s an issue that’s close to their community as they continue to grapple with the aftermath of the May 24 mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
A cohort of Uvalde parents and their supporters made their way to Edinburg on Friday to support O’Rourke, a Democrat, and his stance on stricter gun laws.
Gloria Cazares, the mother of Jackie, said parents have demanded that Abbott call a special session to tackle gun safety. So far, he has refused to do so, she said.
Parents have asked lawmakers to consider raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old, she said. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
They have also called for universal background checks for all firearm sales and tougher “red flag” laws.
“There is nothing that I can do that is going to bring my daughter back, but I am fighting for the future mom who will one day be in my shoes,” Cazares said.
O’Rourke said parents know the issue “better, unfortunately, than any of us here do.”
Their demands are “common sense,” he said, adding that the Uvalde shooter waited until he was 18 to purchase his guns.
Felix Rubio, who served two tours in Iraq in the Army National Guard, said his daughter was killed by a weapon of war.
“I went to war and I made it home. My daughter went to school and was murdered in her classroom,” he said.
The Rubios recalled when Abbott said the attack “could have been worse.”
“What did he mean? I don’t want to know.”
The Rubios denied meeting with Abbott following the shooting because Lexi didn’t support his stance on women’s rights. Kimberly Rubio said they did meet with O’Rourke to tell him “how I can help you help other moms.”
“I’m speaking directly to moms when I say our babies’ lives are on that ballot,” she said.
KSAT 12 will broadcast and livestream the debate between at 7 p.m. on Friday and host a virtual watch party for KSAT Insiders.