Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
In a moment that was unquestionably political theater, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupted a Wednesday press briefing hosted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to provide updates on the Uvalde mass shooting.
O’Rourke approached the stage where Abbott, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and at least a dozen others were gathered after Abbott concluded his remarks on the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, that ended in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers.
“The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing,” O’Rourke can be heard to say in various videos that have surfaced following the exchange.
At another point, O’Rourke said, “This is on you, until you choose to do something different.”
As he spoke, police officers, security, and other officials demanded O’Rourke desist or otherwise shouted him down.
“Sir, you are out of line, please leave this auditorium,” Patrick said.
O’Rourke’s claim that Abbott is doing nothing is more accurately understood as “doing nothing to create stricter gun laws.”
Abbott and other conservatives have pushed for better security at schools and improved mental health care as a means of combatting the tragic school deaths, holding to their belief that stricter gun laws will not remediate the problem.
“[It] is our duty as elected officials to evaluate all possible means of making our schools safer to prevent future tragedies and ensure communities across the state—whether they are underserved populations within large cities or rural areas of the state—have the mental health resources needed,” Abbott said Wednesday.
Wednesday’s act was clearly a political tactic that O’Rourke no doubt hopes will aid in his election campaign and his lengthy quest to dial back gun ownership rights.
He’d spent the previous 24 hours deriding Abbott on Twitter prior to approaching the stage.
In one tweet, O’Rourke wrote, “These massacres aren’t natural disasters, acts of God, or random. They are totally predictable, direct consequences of the choices made by Greg Abbott and the majority of those in the legislature.”
These massacres aren’t natural disasters, acts of God, or random.
They are totally predictable, direct consequences of the choices made by Greg Abbott and the majority of those in the legislature. https://t.co/CqGhAefmPg
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 25, 2022
In a brief interview with an NBC News reporter after his confrontation with Abbott, O’Rourke offered no defense of making political what was ostensibly a non-political briefing. Rather, he reiterated his belief that “now is the time” for change and said that stricter gun laws were what Texas wanted.
While unpopular with conservatives and fans of the Second Amendment, O’Rourke has been consistent in his stance on guns. In 2019, he gained much notoriety when said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
During the press conference, Abbott argued against stricter gun laws, which he said would do little to stop future shootings.
“People who think maybe we can implement tough gun laws and we can solve it — Chicago, New York and LA disprove that thesis,” Abbott said. “Chicago teaches you that what you are talking about isn’t a real solution.”
As of this writing, Abbott had not addressed O’Rourke’s actions directly. On social media, Abbott focused on the victims of the tragedy and the investigation into the incident.
Uvalde has been shaken to its core.
Families are broken apart. Hearts are forever shattered.
All Texans must come together & support the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy.
We will continue to work with @TxDPS & law enforcement to investigate this crime.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 25, 2022
However, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican who defeated O’Rourke in a 2018, was less forgiving.
While appearing on Fox News, Cruz blasted O’Rourke while simultaneously pushing for the Senate to “harden” schools, shorthand for enacting measures that will make it harder for shooters to physically access a school.
“This is horrific … we need to do something,” Cruz said. “But the something is not the empty political posturing of people like Beto O’Rourke, who shows up and tries to turn it into a political event instead of a briefing with the police about a horrific mass murder that just happened. The something we can do is we can pass legislation.”
We have seen the face of evil.
The Senate needs to act by passing legislation to harden schools so this doesn’t happen again. pic.twitter.com/vUxNxxHHCo
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) May 26, 2022
Cruz went on to criticize Democrats for having filibustered a 2013 bill that would have allocated $300 million in grants to help “harden” schools.
The Texas governor’s race will be decided Nov. 8.