Transcript for Beto O’Rourke stands with Uvalde families ahead of Texas gubernatorial debate
- I want to begin by thanking you all for being here today because you are able now to amplify and elevate the stories of these families from Uvalde. As Veronica just reminded us, it has been 18 weeks, and not a single thing has changed to make it any less likely that any other child in any other classroom in any other community in Texas will meet the same fate as these 19 children did on the 24th of May of this very year, along with their two extraordinary teachers who had already sacrificed so much for those kids day in and day out, and ultimately gave their lives for them.
The answers are before us. And you've heard the parents themselves, who know this better, unfortunately, than any of us here do that raising the age of purchase for a weapon originally designed for war. Felix, who served twice in Iraq, willing to put his life on the line for this country, described coming back safely to the United States of America to Uvalde, but his daughter, up against one of those weapons of war, not able to make it through that school day or through that school year.
Raising the minimum age of purchase to 21 is something that not only do all of us here agree on-- not only does the mayor of Uvalde and the entire City Council, who, as Veronica said demanded, that the governor call a special session to bring Republicans and Democrats around the table to do just that-- but I've traveled to every part of this state literally, listened to people who are for me, I've listened to people who will never vote for me. All of them agree that this makes sense. It allows us to continue to defend the Second Amendment while better protecting the lives of our children.
I want to anticipate a question that some of you might have that I've heard at these town halls across the state. But Beto, criminals won't follow the law. It won't matter what we do. I think in some cases, we have to acknowledge that's true. But this troubled young man in Uvalde patiently waited until he was 18 years old, never tried to acquire that firearm when he was 16 or 17. Upon his 18th birthday, he was legally able to go into a gun store and buy not one, but two AR15s and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Republicans, Democrats, independents, gun owners alike all agree that raising the age allows us at least three more years for some kind of intervention in a person's life, like this young man in Uvalde.
Other common sense, common ground ideas I've heard. A red flag law which simply says that if you already have that firearm, and you're threatening to use it against yourself or use it against someone in your life or take it into a classroom. We should remember that this shooter in Uvalde was signaling so strongly what he might do that his friends called him the school shooter before he ever walked into Robb Elementary on the 24th of May, 2022. A red flag law could save lives.
A universal background check, which just simply says that in addition to the background check that takes place at a federally licensed gun dealer, if you buy at a gun show or from a private seller, you go through a background check as well. Again, I have yet to meet the Texan who will argue that point, except for Greg Abbott. He's called special sessions to determine which kids can go to which bathrooms. He's called special sessions to determine which version of history we're allowed to teach in our schools. He's called two special sessions to weaken our right to vote.
But 18 weeks and counting-- and all of us today are still counting-- he has yet to lift a finger to call a special session to bring people around the table to move forward on common sense solutions that defend the Second Amendment while better protecting the lives of our kids, our families, and the people in our communities.
As you listen to Kimberly and to Felix, as you listen to Javier and Gloria, as you just listened to Veronica, who stands here with Jerry, as we think about the lives lost taken from us-- Lexi and Jackie and Tess, and although they didn't speak, Nevaeh's family is here. Annabelle's family is here. And I have a card signed by many of the other families in Uvalde who lost a loved one. I just want you to know this. Though Greg Abbott has set the conditions of tonight's debate, that not a single one of his constituents in this state is allowed in a hall that seats hundreds, not even these families here.
I will be carrying this card, tokens and mementos that other families have given me, their stories and their spirit and their leadership into that debate and every single day of this campaign and every single day that I draw a breath. They are owed, and by extension, so are we, justice and accountability. They are owed the memories of their daughters and sons kept alive forever. And they are also owed action. And the only way that we are going to get that is through change.
The last thing that I want to say, before all of us will happily take your questions, is this. Before the crack of dawn, these families that you see behind me boarded buses in Uvalde, Texas. It is [SPANISH] 280 miles from where we are today in Edinburg. And it reminds me of the fact that on the 24th of May of this year, when the governor was near Abilene, Texas, about 280 miles from Uvalde-- when at that time, he knew that as many as 14 children had been killed, but they hadn't recovered all the bodies, they hadn't told all of the parents-- he had a choice to make. He could drive, just as these families did, for five hours, 280 miles due south to Uvalde to be with them. Or he could go in the opposite direction about 300 miles to a fundraiser on a private jet.
You all know what he chose to do. He went to that fundraiser, did not show up until the next day. And then when he did, as one of the families just shared with us, he began by saying it could have been worse. s We need someone who prioritizes the lives of our kids over the interests of the NRA or any other special interest group, or really any other matter at all.
Amy, my wife, who is with me here today, we're raising our three kids, Ulysses, Molly, and Henry in El Paso. There is nothing, but nothing that is more important to us than them, just like these families right here, right now. And I will do everything in my power to come through for them, and for every child in this state. I know that their judgment is upon us. I know that the only voice that they have in this election is through the votes of those who are eligible to cast them. We cannot be found wanting, and we absolutely must come through.
Last thing that I want to say is that after we have this press conference here today, after we have a chance to say goodbye to one another, later this afternoon these same families will be getting on that same bus and traveling those same 280 miles, nearly five hours. They will not get home to their community and to their families until after 2:00 AM tomorrow morning.
Look at what they are willing to do not for themselves-- there's nothing they can do by being here now to get their kids back. They are doing it for your kids and for every other child across the state of Texas right now. Whether we're Republicans, independents, or Democrats, let us be inspired by their leadership and follow the way that they have set.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.