Sep 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Uvalde victims' parents pressure Abbott on gun control ahead of governor debate

A couple pays their respects on June 25 at a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The families of some of the 19 children killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting challenged Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on his opposition to tougher gun laws Friday, per AP.

The big picture: Following the deadliest school shooting in the state's history, the topic of gun control is likely to be at the forefront of the upcoming midterm elections, in which Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke is closing in on Abbott with just over one month before Texans head to the polls.

Driving the news: O’Rourke joined the families at the southern Rio Grande Valley on Friday, where the only debate between the two candidates is set to take place, highlighting how the deadly mass shooting will play a role in the state's governor's race.

  • But the victims' families won’t be allowed to be present for the debate as it won’t have a live audience.
  • The top demand from Uvalde families is to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle from 18 to 21 years old, AP reports.

What they're saying: "This is more than just a political race. Lives are on the line," Felix Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in the shooting, said per AP.

State of play: Abbott's seemingly evasive response to the Uvalde shooting as well as the state's abortion ban have allowed O'Rourke a chance to mobilize Democratic voters, Axios' Nicole Cobler reports.

  • More than three-quarters of voters believe that the delay by police at Robb Elementary School contributed "a lot" to the severity of the Uvalde shooting, according to a statewide survey from the Texas Politics project at UT Austin.
  • Only 22% of Texans say the state's elected officials have done "enough" to prevent mass shootings in the state, while a majority — 57% — say they've done "too little."

Go deeper: Families of Uvalde shooting survivors sue school district, gun makers

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