Nearly three dozen family members of Uvalde shooting victims showed their support for Democratic candidate for Texas governor Beto O' Rourke.
Thirty-five family members of those affected by the May school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead traveled five hours by bus to show their support for O'Rourke before a Friday debate between him and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Tribune reported.
Among the family members of those killed in the shooting were the parents of 10-year-old Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio.
"I'm speaking directly to moms when I say our babies' lives are on the ballot," Lexi's mom, Kimberly Rubio, said at a press conference before the debate. "It happened to me; it can happen to you. And this pain, it'll bring you to your knees."
Abbott has been routinely criticized for his response to the deadly mass shooting and unwillingness to support gun control measures. Hours after the shooting, Abbott took a jet to attend a fundraiser in Austin for several hours.
After taking a five-hour bus trip, family of the Uvalde shooting massacre stand with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, right, during a pre-campaign debate news conference, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Edinburg, Texas. O'Rourke will face Gov. Greg Abbott in a debate Friday evening. (Photo: AP Photo/Eric Gay)
O'Rourke has been outspoken about the need for more robust gun control and the tepid response from officials after mass shootings. When officials, including Abbott, held a press conference a day after the shooting, O'Rourke interrupted it to remind them of their inaction.
"You're doing nothing. You're all doing nothing," O'Rourke told the officials.
And during a town hall event in August, O'Rourke shut down a heckler who laughed as O'Rourke described assault rifles as a weapon of war.
"It may be funny to you, motherfucker, but it's not funny to me, OK?" O'Rourke said to cheers from the crowd.
The Uvalde families supporting O'Rourke have expressed support for raising the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle from 18 years old to 21 years old.
During the Friday press conference, Felix Rubio, Lexi's dad said that he fought in the war and made it home, only to have his daughter die in her school, ABC News reported.
"I went to war, and I made it home," he said. "My daughter went to school and was murdered in their classroom. I fought for my country overseas, and now I'm fighting for changes."
Gloria Cazares, the mother to 9-year-old Jackie Cazarez, who died in the shooting, said she's fighting to prevent another mom from suffering the way she has.
"There's nothing that I can do that is going to bring my daughter back," Cazares said. "But I'm fighting for the future mom who will one day be in my shoes, who will blame herself for leaving her daughter at school after the morning award ceremony."
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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