Unique campaign utilizing AI-generated voices of gun violence victims hope to change gun laws

The Shotline campaign launched on the sixth anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

On the heels of another terrifying shooting, this time in Kansas City, a campaign for gun reform is taking a unique approach.

“Hi, this is Uzi Garcia,” the artificial intelligence voice of Uziyah Garcia said.

The voice played in a recording sounds exactly as it did in life.

“I’m a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Or at least I was,” Garcia’s voice said.

This recording comes nearly two years after Uziyah Garcia was silenced by an 18-year-old armed with an AR-15.

“Nothing has changed,” Garcia’s voice says. “Even more shootings have happened. That’s why my family recreated my voice. Using AI to call you today.”

Brett Cross, Uziyah’s guardian, is working with gun violence reform organizations Change the Ref and March For Our Lives for a campaign called The Shotline.

“These politicians, they’ll try to ignore us,” Cross said. “They get tired of hearing our voice. Maybe they’ll listen to his voice.”

Cross and the families of five other gun violence victims used artificial intelligence to recreate the voices taken to call on elected leaders.

“Because our stories need to be heard,” Joaquin Oliver’s AI-generated voice said. “And who better to tell them than us?”

“But we can’t do this alone,” Ethan Song’s voice said. “So we created The Shotline.”

Oliver, 17, is one of the 17 people killed on Valentine’s Day in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Song, 15, was killed in 2018 after being shot in the head while playing with a handgun at his best friend’s house.

The website works by typing in a zipcode, selecting one of the gun violence victims, and clicking on a representative to forward one of the recorded calls to.

Their goal is to inspire changes to gun laws to keep shootings like what happened in Kansas City on Wednesday from continuing to happen.

“This is America. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen. It’s a matter of when,” Cross said.

Cross says they hope to have other families touched by gun violence join the campaign as well.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.

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