Uvalde families who lost loved ones at Robb Elementary call for changes to gun laws

More than four months after the massacre at Robb Elementary, families of those who died that day once again gathered in Uvalde. They are calling for changes to gun laws and a change in leadership.

"I left a piece of my heart at Robb Elementary, and she never made it home to me," said Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed on May 24.

Many families returned to the local civic center to call for change.

"I asked Gloria if Jackie was okay, and she simply said no, my heart dropped," said Jackie Casares’ uncle Jessie Rizo

The loss was still gut-wrenching for loved ones of the 19 students and two teachers.

"She died a hero as she reached for her phone and called 911. That was in her nature to protect herself and her friends at any cost," said Amerie Jo Garza’s step-grandmother Berlinda Arreola.

"Losing Irma the way we did was unimaginable and absolutely devastating," said Marissa Lozano, the sister of Irma Garcia, who was one of the two teachers killed at Robb Elementary. 

Garcia’s husband Joe died days later of a heart attack, or as his loved ones say, of a broken heart.

These grieving families are hoping to highlight what they see as the need for change in gun laws: stronger background checks, red flag laws, and raising the age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21.

"I’m here today to be a voice for my son who was only 10," said Xavier Lopez’s mother Felisha Martinez. 

"An 18-year-old was able to purchase a weapon to murder 19 children and 2 teachers." Martinez added. "We need to do better and get these laws changed."

Many say that change needs to start at the top.

"Was 21 not enough?" said Rizo, in words directed at Governor Greg Abbott. "What is your benchmark to call a special session?"

"The state has failed Uvalde before May 24, on May 24, and after. I still believe that," said Democratic State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde.

Abbott argues raising the age limit would be unconstitutional, and, in an interview with FOX 7’s Rudy Koski for Texas: The Issue Is, Abbott responded to those who say he’s done nothing to prevent another shooting.

 "After Uvalde, day after day, I issued six directives on separate days about action to be taken, and then after that I charged the legislature with coming up with answers and solutions on five different topics. It was in the aftermath of that they came up with more than $100 million to increase safety in our schools," said Abbott.

But the families gathered in Uvalde Wednesday say their children deserve more.

"My 10-year-old daughter would not have died in vain," said Veronica Mata, mother of Tess Marie Mata. "No parent should ever have the pain that we have to live with every single day. There needs to be a change."

Several Democratic lawmakers and candidates were part of Wednesday’s press conference, including Mike Collier, who’s running for Lt. Governor, though gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was not there.