Beto O’Rourke tells Texas governor: ‘This is on you’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confronted his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke at a news conference Wednesday where officials gave details of the mass shooting at a local elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Three adults – including the gunman – and 19 students were killed.

O’Rourke, 49, a former El Paso congressman and US Senate and presidential candidate, is the Democratic nominee against Abbott, 64, who is seeking a third term as governor.

For the record:

6:17 p.m. May 25, 2022An earlier version of this report said the mass shooting took place at the El Paso Walmart in 2016. It was in 2019.

Abbott took the stage in the Uvalde High School auditorium surrounded by state and local Republican officials, including U.S. Reapers John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. He described how the 18-year-old gunman armed himself with an AR-15-style rifle, but said the problem wasn’t the state’s lax gun laws.

“I asked the sheriff and others an open-ended question and got the same answer from both the sheriff and the mayor of Uvalde. The question was, what is the problem here? And they were direct and emphatic. They said, ‘We have a mental health issue in this community,'” Abbott said, adding, “‘The need for more mental health support in this region.'”

Shortly thereafter, O’Rourke – seated in the audience – got up and approached the stage, calling the filming “entirely predictable when you decide to do nothing”.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin called back, “Sir, you’re out of line!”

Sen. Cruz – who narrowly beat O’Rourke in his last Senate race – told him to sit down.

O’Rourke continued.

Republican Lt. gov. Dan Patrick called O’Rourke “an embarrassment”.

O’Rourke pointed his finger at Abbott.

“That’s up to you until you decide to do something else. This will continue to happen. Someone has to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed like they were killed yesterday in Uvalde,” he said before exiting the building.

Abbott dismissed the interruption.

“There are family members who are crying as we speak, there are family members whose hearts are broken, there are no words that someone who is crying can come here and do anything to mend those broken hearts,” he said Crowd. “…We must not focus on ourselves and our agendas.”

O’Rourke continued to speak out in the school parking lot about the need for stricter gun laws, yelling and railing against AR-15 rifles as he did after a mass shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso in 2019, the worst mass shooting targeting Latinos in the US history.

“The governor is talking about mental health. It’s crazy that we’re allowing an 18-year-old to go in and buy an AR-15: what the hell did we think he was going to do with that? It’s on us,” he said, speaking first in English, then in Spanish. “Now it’s time to stop the next shooting.”

O’Rourke cited other mass shootings in the state since El Paso: a church in the central Texas city of Sutherland Springs in 2017, Santa Fe High School outside of Houston in 2018, and Midland-Odessa in 2019. He said he’s been involved with the spoken to victims. Parents in Uvalde, El Paso, Santa Fe and Midland-Odessa.

“We owe these parents a debt,” he said. “… You want a solution? Stop AR-15 sales in the state of Texas. You want a solution? Conduct universal background checks. We don’t have them. You want a solution? Red flag laws or extreme risk orders that stop a shooting before it happens. You want a solution? Secure [gun] storage laws.”

“We could do that if we had a governor who cares more about the people of Texas than his own political career or his allegiance to the NRA,” he said, noting that Abbott is scheduled to speak at the annual National Rifle Assn . Convention in Houston at the end of the week. Beto O’Rourke tells Texas governor: ‘This is on you’

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