Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat challenging Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott in a long-shot bid for the Texas governor’s mansion, disrupted Abbott’s press conference about the elementary school mass shooting in Uvalde on Wednesday.
O’Rourke—best known for narrowly losing to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018—is a strong advocate for much tougher gun control measures in a state with some of the most permissive gun laws in the country. He began chastising the governor for “doing nothing” on restricting access to firearms.
“You are offering us nothing. You said this was not predictable this is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything,” he said, adding “This is on you.”
Abbott said the gunman used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. Similar weapons have been used in the most of the deadliest mass shootings, including the May 14 shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where 10 people were killed.
Abbott, who is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle’s Association’s annual meeting in Houston this week, focused on mental health as the way to prevent future shootings—despite saying that the gunman had no known mental health problems.
Abbott had just finished his portion of the press conference and was passing the microphone over to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when O’Rourke approached the stage and started chastising the officials.
Several of the officials responded to him, one of them is heard saying “sit down” and another says “you’re out of line and embarrassment” and “please leave this auditorium.”
One of the men on stage (who appeared to be Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin) began shouting at O’Rourke: “I can’t believe you’re a sick son of a b— who would come to a [event] like this and try to make a political issue.”
After being escorted out of the building, O’Rourke spoke to reporters expressing his displeasure with Abbott blaming mental health for the shooting, and not the easy access to weapons.
“It is insane that the governor talks about mental health, it is insane that we allow an 18-year-old to go in and buy an AR-15. What the hell did we think he was going to do with that?” O’Rourke asked. “This one is on us.”
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