(UVALDE, Texas) -- Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez offered a poignant message to families Wednesday, one day after a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
“Go hug your babies before you send them to school,” he said, visibly holding back tears. “There are 19 parents here in Uvalde that aren’t gonna get to hug their babies anymore.”
Gutierrez, who represents the district where the shooting occurred, told ABC News Live that “we need to do anything that's possible to stop this paradigm that keeps happening over and over again.”
Gutierrez discussed his frustration with Republican colleagues in the Texas State Senate and his desire to see a federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, reinstated at the federal level.
“At the local level,” he said, “our state government and my Republican colleagues seem to be opening access to these types of weapons.”
State legislation H.B. 1927, which was passed last year, allows anyone over 18 to carry a weapon openly without a license. The gunman, who opened fire at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, purchased two AR-15-style rifles just days prior to the shootings, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Striking another personal note, Gutierrez said, “I’m a hunter. There’s no one in this district that goes hunting with an AR-15.”
“We need people in the Senate to break the filibuster and act immediately on legislation,” Gutierrez said, noting that he received a call from the White House yesterday. Two bills that would require more intensive background checks on gun sales, named H.R. 1446 and H.R. 8, are currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.
There have been 213 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022, according to figures from the Gun Violence Archive.
The shooting in Uvalde, a city of a little more than 16,000 people in southern Texas, comes less than two weeks after a shooting in Buffalo, New York, which left ten people dead.
“At the federal level,” Gutierrez said, “we need to be talking about an assault weapons ban.”
In addition to urging action from federal lawmakers, Gutierrez said he is committed to continuing to seek gun reform on a state level. Gutierrez voted against the open carry law last year and filed a “red flag” law in the state senate last year without success. The law would prohibit the sale of guns to individuals who could pose a threat to themselves or others.
“We don’t need these types of militarized weapons on our streets anymore,” he said. “I feel comfortable saying that.”