SAN ANTONIO — On Saturday, Voto Latino hosted a call-to-action event in San Antonio in support of Uvalde victims and families, and to demand a response to prevent similar tragedies.
The event at Travis Park featured a variety of speakers, including Congressman Joaquin Castro; his brother, former Mayor Julian Castro; and Voto Latino President María Teresa Kumar.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich took the stage and spoke about how even though there have been several mass shootings in Texas, little has been done to prevent future attacks.
"Texas is actually the place where five of the worst massacres in U.S. history have taken place," Popovich said.
Popovich then went on to speak about the press conference where Beto O'Rourke confronted Gov. Greg Abbott as he was talking about the deadly shooting.
"The first reaction of the people up on the dais there was 'you're out of line'," Popovich said. "Who's out of line? You're out of line because you haven't done crap and 19 more people were murdered. It's just incredible, they think we're stupid."
He then went on to question the state government's focus on mental illness.
"If it's true that mental illness is important, then why did this government in Texas slash the budget for mental illness?" he asked.
Popovich said that while no one is trying to take guns away completely, no one should be able to buy an AR-15.
"Why can anybody buy an AR-15? I shouldn't be able to buy one, you shouldn't be able to buy one, what the hell do you need an AR-15 for?" Popovich said.
He said that he wants to hear government officials talk about red flag laws and safe storage laws, but he isn't too hopeful as he feels the conversation will shift towards mental health.
Popovich said that people who seek changes to gun laws need to vote.
Congressman Joaquin Castro and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro took the stage and first thanked the community for being in attendance. Julian Castro went on to talk about how mass shootings have become a uniquely American problem.
Despite mental health or economic crises, he says other countries don't have access to the guns that Americans do.
"This is a uniquely American problem, and that means that it's going to take a unique American determination to change it," Julian Castro said.
Joaquin Castro said when he was in Uvalde visiting with the families who were asking how it is that an 18-year-old can't legally buy alcohol or cigarettes, yet they can go and get two guns on their 18th birthdays.
He reflected back to the governor's response following the deadly El Paso shooting in 2019 where 20 people were killed and several more were injured at a grocery store.
"Governor Abbott said he was going to make it harder for these kinds of massacres to happen again," Joaquin Castro said. "Instead he made it easier for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in their hands."
Joaquin Castro said the U.S. House of Representatives will pass red flag laws.
O'Rourke said gun violence affects everyone, even on a day-to-day basis.
"We need to stand for all victims of gun violence, whether it was self-inflicted, whether they were killed by somebody else, whether it was an accident because they had a firearm unsecured in their home and they picked it up," O'Rourke said.
He called on attendees to support the families in Uvalde and recommended universal background checks, safe storage laws, extreme risk protection orders and no weapons of war in the the communities.
Joe Gonzales started off by reading the mass shootings that have happened since Columbine.
"I don't know about you, but I'm tired," Gonzales said. "I don't know about you, but I'm angry."
Gonzales called for action against gun violence and expressed the struggles he faces as Bexar County Criminal District Attorney.
"How can I do my job when everyone has a gun?" Gonzales said. "How can I do my job when someone is quick to pull a gun instead of having a discussion --- when someone is quick to pull a gun and point it at someone during a road rage incident or at a gas station? We have to do something about the guns that we see in our communities."
He said the community has to get our leaders to do more to protect us as a nation. He said that the prosecutors will move to destroy the weapons used in criminal cases following every successful prosecution.