AUSTIN, Texas — Uvalde parents and family members, activists and mass shooting survivors participated in a March For Our Lives rally Saturday morning at the Texas State Capitol.
Organizers are asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call an immediate special session to raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21. March For Our Lives called on "everyone in Texas who cares about the lives of children" to join the rally.
On May 24, a gunman walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and killed 19 children and two teachers. Since then, school safety has become an even higher priority to Texas parents. He purchased the AR-15 he used to carry out the murders, just days after turning 18.
"Too many parents have to go through this. This is not a club that I wanted to be in. This is not a club that any of these families wanted to be in. This is not that. You don't want that. So fight with us and help us demand change because you don't want to be fighting from this side with a hole in your heart that cannot go away," said Brett Cross, an uncle of a Uvalde shooting victim.
Gun control advocates have spent the past three months urging the governor to call a special session to address gun safety.
Lawmakers cannot change any gun laws since they are not in a legislative session. The Texas legislature is set to reconvene in January. But organizers of the event say that is too long to wait and that Gov. Abbott should call a special session now.
"To avoid another mass shooting from happening, to avoid another 18-year-old from being able to acquire an assault weapon," said Matthew Hogenmiller, an organizer for March for Our Lives. "We're here to rally."
PHOTOS: Uvalde families speak at March for Our Lives in Austin
Hogenmiller believes allowing 18-year-olds to buy assault rifles just doesn’t make sense.
"I'm 20 years old and I cannot rent a car to pick up equipment for this rally," said Hoggenmiller. "But I can purchase an assault weapon if I wanted to here in Texas."
"With kids across Texas starting to go back to school, his inaction is unconscionable. Every day he doesn't take action is another day he gambles with our lives," March For Our Lives said in a press release. "Gov. Abbott: it's time to honor the children from Robb Elementary school with action to keep kids across Texas safe."
Before the rally on Saturday, Uvalde families rallied outside the Governor's Mansion.
Families of the victims of the shooting in Uvalde and the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed 10 people told their stories of grief and called for changes to the state's gun laws.
Javier Cazares began the rally by reading a letter to Gov. Abbott, cosigned by multiple organizations, families and survivors across Texas.
"Our children's lives depend on common-sense laws that the vast majority of Texans desperately want, no matter what their party is," the letter said. "It's time to raise the standards of gun ownership in Texas."
Participants lamented what they see as inaction from the governor, at many times chanting, "Vote him out!"
The rally was held on the south steps of the Capitol from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
You can watch the full rally below:
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