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Two Texas communities devastated by mass shootings join forces

Families in Santa Fe and Uvalde believe power in numbers could drive gun reform.

SAN ANTONIO — Two communities connected by tragedy are joining forces. 

On May 18, 2018, a shooting at Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, killed 10 people. Nearly four years later, 21 more innocent souls lost their lives at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

Now, families from both towns are working together. They believe power in numbers could drive change.

"I just felt like, 'Oh my God, here we go again,'" said Rhonda Hart. 

When she heard the news out of Uvalde, tinges of familiar heartbreak returned for Hart.

"My daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was one of the first kiddos that was shot and killed in the art class... She got shot four times in the back," she said. 

Credit: Rhonda Hart
Kimberly Vaughan, 14, died in a shooting at Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018.

Her daughter was a freshman at Santa Fe High School, the youngest of 10 students and teachers who were senselessly killed.

"Greg Abbott told us that our school shooting would be the last in Texas, and they would make it better and pass laws to prevent this from happening," said Hart.

On Sunday, Hart met Uvalde families at the Houston Astros game on Uvalde Strong Day. It's there where a new partnership was formed from a shared history of tragedy. 

"We were like, 'You know what, we need to get our two towns together and we need to be able to tell our stories together,'" said Hart. "I'm not sure if any other state has suffered two mass school shootings under one governor. That's what makes us unique."

Hart has been vocal in the fight for common sense gun reform and worked to pass multiple pieces of federal legislation. Those include the Kimberly Vaughan Safe Storage Act, which turned into the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that President Joe Biden signed in July. 

Credit: Rhonda Hart
Rhonda Hart (second from left) pictured with parents of Uvalde victims.

Hart is hoping to do the same in Texas.

"We've earned that right to hear from Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke what their plans are and how they're gonna fix this," she explained. "By damned, we're going to fix this. Our children are not gonna have died in vain."

RELATED: She survived the Santa Fe shooting, then visited Uvalde to comfort the newest members of a growing circle linked by tragedy

Parents from the two towns will rally net Saturday in Austin.

KENS 5 reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott's office to see what further action he has planned to address gun reform. Below is the statement sent to us from his press secretary: 

Critics say the governor's actions are not enough, citing his failure to call a special legislative session on gun safety in response to the Uvalde shooting.

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