AUSTIN, Texas - Volunteers with Texas Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action gathered at the Texas State Capitol Thursday morning as part of "Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund’s Road Trip for Background Checks."
A series of nearly 60 demonstrations are being held over a ten-day period calling for stronger background check laws. The event culminates with a demonstration in Washington, D.C.
"It is very important to us that we do everything in our power to try to see fewer people feeling the way we feel today," said Carla Byrne. In 2019, Byrne’s little brother ‘Joey’ was shot and killed in a mass shooting in Odessa.
Joey, also known as Joe Griffith, was murdered while sitting in his car with his wife and two children. He was one of eight people killed. 25 others were injured.
"...by a shooter who tried to get a gun in 2014 from a licensed gun dealer and he failed a background check at that time. Later on he just easily circumvented that federal loophole and was able to buy a gun from a private seller." Byrne explained.
From Monday, April 5 to Thursday, April 8 at 5 p.m., ten mass shootings took place in the United States, according to nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive. The group defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot at the same time, excluding the perpetrator.
Monday, two brothers in Allen murdered four of their family members and killed themselves. One of them, a UT Austin student, left behind a suicide note detailing their struggle with mental illness. He called U.S. gun control a "joke," adding "thank you for making the process so easy."
Thursday, just hours after the demonstration in Austin, a mass shooting took place less than 85 miles away in Bryan. Authorities have confirmed that one person was pronounced dead on the scene. Four others were taken to the hospital with critical injuries, another person had non-life-threatening injuries after being shot, and another person was taken to the hospital for an asthma-related issue.
"We know that our country can do more to protect our families. Unfortunately, it just has not been a priority for our lawmakers." Moms Demand Action member Becca DeFelice said.
Felisha Bull, Texas deputy director of Gun Owners of America, a gun rights organization, told FOX 7 Austin, "Every day, anywhere from 600 to 8,000 Americans use a firearm in self-defense, saving many lives. Unfortunately, the misguided proposal of banning any private transfer of a firearm without a federal background check could hamper Americans’ defensive gun use."
Bull added, "It would be a travesty to criminalize every single private sale, loan, or gift of a firearm that occurs without one of these checks. Worse, many individuals could be endangered due to being unable to defend themselves. Universal and expanded background checks harm the safety of Texans and do nothing to stop criminals from engaging in criminal acts."
Byrne questions the ‘good guy with a gun’ rhetoric as her brother was a gun owner "What good did it do my brother that day?... He did not know he was in the middle of a warzone and that he had to get out and hold it up at the ready like he was in the Wild Wild West," she asked.
She added "What people need to understand is nobody wants to take away your guns. Nobody wants to undo the Second Amendment. I’m a gun owner. I passed a background check. It’s not about that. It’s about ensuring that the people that have guns are not going to be the guy that starts shooting everybody."