Some Uvalde families turn their grief and anger into activism for gun control
Several Uvalde families have spent the past few days lobbying for gun reform in Washington, D.C.
They were joined by survivors and relatives of victims of other mass shootings, including Parkland, Fla. and Highland Park, Ill.
The families had individual meetings with about a dozen members of Congress. They shared their experiences with mass shootings and asked for their support for a federal ban on assault weapons.
Manuel Rizo is the uncle and godfather of Jackie Cazares, one of the 19 children killed at Robb Elementary alongside their two teachers. Rizo said the families met with several lawmakers from Illinois but only one from Texas: Congressman Tony Gonzales.
Gonzales represents Uvalde and broke with most Republicans to vote in favor of the bipartisan gun safety bill signed into law in June. That law includes some limited measures to keep guns out of the hands of people with records of violence, but it stops short of banning any class of weapons or ammunition.
In addition to the Cazares family, relatives of at least three other children killed in the Uvalde mass shooting traveled to D.C.: Lexi Rubio, Uziyah Garcia and Amerie Jo Garza.
On Wednesday, the Uvalde families also attended a rally and march on the Capitol organized by families from Highland Park. Kimberly Rubio, the mother of Lexi Rubio, was one of the speakers.
In a livestream captured by relatives and news outlets, the mother said a lot of “what ifs” run through her head every day. But she wants lawmakers to wrestle with one of them: What would have happened if the gunman at Robb Elementary hadn’t had access to an assault weapon?
“I want that question to be the first thing to cross their mind in the morning and the last thought they have before they go to bed each night,” Rubio said. “Because we are no longer asking for change. We are demanding it, and we are angry as hell.”
The Cazares family also organized a march and rally in Uvalde on Sunday before heading to Washington, D.C. Many of the speakers and marchers in Uvalde also called for gun control.
Rizo said the gun law Congress passed in June doesn't go far enough.
"They put a bandaid on it," Rizo said. "It's something to kind of keep everybody quiet and to move on and say that we did something until elections are over."
Rizo said he wants a mandatory waiting period before gun purchases to give time for expanded background checks, and the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic weapon moved up to at least 21.