Beto O'Rourke Speaks at Anti-Gun Violence Rally in Houston

Protesters rallied for gun reform on May 27, outside the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, where the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention was being held three days, following a school shooting in Uvalde.

In the wake of the shooting, during which a gunman with an AR-15 killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, gun-control advocates were again calling on lawmakers to take measures to limit gun access.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke spoke at the rally, in part describing his visit to the home of Alithia Ramirez, one of the children killed in the Uvalde shooting on May 24.

“Walking into their kitchen, Alithia’s balloons from her tenth birthday were still clinging to the ceiling,” said O’Rourke.
Still helium in them. Her bed as she left it that morning, still unmade."

O’Rourke affirmed his commitment to “working together” to end gun violence and promised gun reform would be a priority for his administration as Governor of Texas should he win.

Several other people spoke at the rally, including Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Black Lives Matter Houston founder Aston Woods, Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg, and other candidates running for office in Texas’ midterms. Credit: Beto O’Rourke via Storyful

Video transcript

[CHEERING]

[APPLAUSE]

- [INAUDIBLE]

- [INAUDIBLE]

- Folks?

- [INAUDIBLE]

- [INAUDIBLE] livestream [INAUDIBLE]. Ready for number one. Are we ready now? [INAUDIBLE]

- Have him come right up in front of the mic.

[CHEERING]

- [INAUDIBLE]

- Why don't you scoot up? Scoot up. Scoot up, man.

- [INAUDIBLE]. I'm remembering those of Uvalde, that community, those families who have lost their children, who have lost their parents, who have lost those teachers who have always been the strength of Uvalde. The most beautiful community, the most wonderful, gracious, kind, generous people that I have ever met.

Being welcomed into the home of Ryan and Jess, who lost their daughter on Tuesday-- her daughter's name is Alithia. I had never heard that name before. I will never forget it for as long as I live. Walking into their kitchen, Alithia's balloons from her 10th birthday were still clinging to the ceiling, still helium in them, her bed as she left it that morning, still unmade, her little sister Aquila, her little brother, Tony, running around the house, not understanding yet what had happened to their sister.

And their mother Jess asked two things of me, of all of us. She said, I don't want anyone to ever forget my little girl lives, I want them to know that she was the most beautiful child-- so happy and so talented and gifted. There were her paintings and drawings all over the house, in the living room and the kitchen, on every surface that she could find. And she was right-- she was extraordinarily gifted and talented.

I want you to remember Alithia. I want Jess and Ryan and that family to know that their child will always live with us for as long as we live. We'll pass her story and her name down to the generations that follow us. We will never forget them. We will never forget Uvalde. We will always remember them.

The second thing she asked is that we do everything that we can with what we have where we are, so that no mother ever feels as she does right now, ever has to experience the grief and the loss that they are feeling right now at this moment. And I say that because there are some-- including those who've lost those who are most dear to them-- who will say it is too soon for us to talk about what we are going to do to prevent this from ever happening again.

But I hope that you agree with me that the time for us to have stopped Uvalde was right after Sandy Hook.

[CHEERING]

The time for us to have stopped Uvalde was right after [INAUDIBLE].

[CHEERING]

The time for us to have stopped Uvalde was right after Santa Fe High School.

[CHEERING]

The time for us to stop the next mass shooting in this country is right now, right here--

[CHEERING]

[INAUDIBLE] So to the people of Uvalde, and to those everywhere in El Paso, in Sutherland Springs, in Midland-Odessa, in Houston, Texas-- to those who've lost somebody. But because it happens so much in this country, it has numbed us. And their names never made the newspaper. They may never be remembered.

To those who still live with their wounds from gun violence-- disabled today, not able to live as they did the day before, I want you to know that not only are we with you right now, we are taking action at this very moment--

[CHEERING]

[INAUDIBLE]. To those-- to those-- who are attending the NRA Convention across the street--

[YELLING]

--you are not our enemies. We are not yours. We extend our hand open and unarmed, in a gesture of peace and fellowship to welcome you to join us, to make sure that this no longer happens in this country.

[CHEERING]

But the time for [INAUDIBLE] has gone and to join us is now. We cannot wait any longer for you. Those who will be the victims of the next mass shooting unless we act are counting on us at this moment. So please join us now or be left behind.

[CHEERING]

And the leadership of the NRA, and to the politicians that you have purchased, to those men and women in positions of power, who care more about your power than using that power to save the lives of those that you are supposed to serve, if you have done anything good, it's the fact that you have brought us here together. And we are [INAUDIBLE] ourselves to act. We will defeat you and we will overcome you [INAUDIBLE].

[CHEERING]

And finally, to those who are here and to those who are watching from home right now, we are counting on [INAUDIBLE]. Our kids are counting on us. Our descendants are looking back on this moment from the future to see if we are going to stand and fight for them or leave them to be slaughtered. We cannot be found wanting.

There are rituals on the other side of this-- press conferences where they blame everyone and everything but those who are responsible for the carnage that we see in our communities, offering thoughts and prayers, but never a word of action. Well, let us acknowledge that we have our own rituals right here among us. Too many have chosen comfort over confrontation. Too many are satisfied with themselves and those who think like them, instead of engaging with those they've never met before who may come to a different conclusion on this issue.

It is time for us to break these rituals and decide what we are going to do different. Because if we continue to do the same thing in the same way and expect a different result, that is the very definition of insanity.

[CHEERING]

So I ask you, for those in power, who hold office right now and who are in the lane and refuse to act, please promise me you will get in their faces before another child is shot in their face.

[CHEERING]

Join me in getting out there, in going out there, and meeting the voters who will decide the outcome of this election in the most suppressed and voter-intimidated state in the Union, where so many people have been drawn out of our democracy. We've got to be on their board and invite them into this next election because the lives of our kids are literally on the ballot.

[CHEERING]

Let us commit ourselves right now to doing the hardest things that we can think of because nothing about this will be easy. We want to make sure that no parent goes through the hardest thing that any of us could possibly experience-- what those parents are going through in Uvalde right now. But also know this-- action is the antidote to despair. It is the key to victory. And it is necessary if we're ever to overcome this.

Are you willing to act?

[CHEERING]

Keep the faith, keep up the fight, and let us always do this together. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

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