Gun control advocates take their campaign to the state with more registered guns than any in the US
"Protect our children, protect our future, let them lead the way."
HOUSTON, TX -- With a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue still fresh in America’s memory, some of the nation's leading gun control advocates took their campaigns this weekend to Texas, a deep-red state with more registered guns than any U.S. state, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"We must do something — we must stop gun violence," Gabby Giffords — the former Arizona congresswoman who survived a gunshot to the head during a mass shooting in 2011, said during back-to-back campaign events on Saturday for Democratic candidate Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in Texas' 7th Congressional District.
"Do you have the courage to fight? Stand with me. Vote, vote, vote!" she said.
Giffords, who suffers from aphasia — a condition that impedes her communication skills due to damage from being shot on the left side of her brain — let her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, do much of the talking on the campaign trail.
"The answer is not more guns, and this is coming from a gun owner," Kelly said during a Texas town hall forum that concluded the couple's nationwide "Vote Save Lives" tour.
"Logically, that doesn't make sense," Kelly told ABC News. "If the answer was more guns, we would already live in the safest country on the planet, because of the number of firearms that are here and the number of people that already carry them. It does not pass the logic test."
Kelly touched on the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that claimed the lives of 11 victims, and on the president's response to the massacre.
"Arming the security guard wouldn't have stopped anything," Kelly said.
Giffords and Kelly were joined by some of the most outspoken gun reform activists from Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, TX, Friday at the University of Houston to encourage other young people to cast votes in Texas' upcoming midterms.
"November 6 is not the deadline," said David Hogg, a survivor of the mass shooting in Parkland in February that killed 17 students and staffers. "It's the start of a revolution.
"I'm ready to see this country be what it says it is on paper," Hogg added.
Megan Mcguire, a 17-year-old high school senior who survived a mass shooting at Sante Fe High School in May that left 10 dead, assailed Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, but praised his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke.
"Ted Cruz, we have tried to contact him through email, through phone call — we have tried to set meetings and he refused to meet with us," she said.
Mcguire told the crowd she was too young to vote, but encouraged them to vote on her behalf.
"Beto sat down with a note pad and pen and paper and asked how we felt," Mcguire said of O'Rourke. "He promised us he would change how things are happening. That was really important to me."
In the closely watched Senate race, O'Rourke and Cruz share different views on gun reform.
During his campaign trail, O'Rourke has not shied away from expressing his sentiments on gun control in a state where recent mass shootings have energized the issue on the campaign trail.
"Thoughts and prayers, Senator Cruz, are just not going to cut it anymore. The people of Texas, the children of Texas deserve action," O'Rourke said during he and Cruz's first debate in September.
Cruz, who backed President Trump's suggestions of arming teachers and adding more armed police officers in schools, has targeted O'Rourke and his polices on gun control, attempting to garner support from Texans who wish for their current gun laws to remain the same.
Cruz released a campaign ad saying the democrat "wants to take our guns."
Fletcher, who shares similar values on gun reform as O'Rourke, said she's optimistic she'll help transition the current gun legislation Texas and the country needs no matter which aisle of the spectrum representatives are on.
"We need to make sure we've got members of Congress who are willing to work across the aisle and understand there is no monopoly on good ideas, but that we all need to actually do the work of governing," Fletcher told ABC News. "Understanding policy, working together and try to make things happen."