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Beto O'Rourke interrupts news conference, tells Texas governor: 'This is on you!'

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“This is on you until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday,” O'Rourke said before leaving 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 is no words that anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts,” he told the crowd. “ ... We need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas.”

O’Rourke disagreed and continued speaking outside in the school parking lot about the need for gun control, shouting and railing against AR-15-style rifles as he did after a mass shooting at a Wal-Mart in his native El Paso in 2019, the worst mass shooting targeting Latinos in U.S. history.

“The governor talks about mental health. It is insane that we allow 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? This one is on us,” he said, speaking first in English, then Spanish. “Now is the time to stop the next shooting.”


O’Rourke cited other mass shootings in the state since El Paso: a church in the central Texas town of Sutherland Springs in 2017; Santa Fe High School outside Houston in 2018 and Midland-Odessa in 2019. He said he talked to victims’ parents in Uvalde, El Paso, Santa Fe and Midland-Odessa.

“We owe those parents action,” he said. “ ... You want a solution? Stop selling AR-15s in the state of Texas. You want a solution? Have universal background checks. We don’t have them. You want a solution? Red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders which stop a shooting before it happens. You want a solution? Safe (gun) storage laws.

“We could get that done if we had a governor who cared more about the people of Texas than he does his own political career or his fealty to the NRA,” he said, noting that Abbott is scheduled to speak at the annual NRA convention in Houston at the end of the week.

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