By Norma Adams-Wade
Judging by the enthusiasm and large turn out of a crowd of supporters, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke is gaining momentum in his campaign to reduce gun violence and easy access to guns in the wake of a deadly school mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24.
The candidate thanked the crowd for coming out to the Town Hall rally – an indication he said shows they are ready to stop the gun violence and increased frequency of mass shootings in Texas and across the nation.
“You’re here to commit yourself to doing whatever it takes (to reduce gun violence),” the candidate told a crowd of about 300 at the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center in Dallas’s Oak Cliff community. “The choice we make right now will eventually define us or haunt us.”
After his comments, O’Rourke allowed comments from a few speakers who he introduced as persons who have lost loved ones to gun violence. He also recognized other Democratic leaders who came out to support his appearance.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this year, spoke to the crowd before O-Rourke and urged them to support Democratic candidates who pledge to change institute laws to protect children in schools and citizens in public places from senseless mass shootings.
Public anger against such shootings has sharply increased since the Uvalde massacre in which an 18-year-old used a legally-purchased, semi-automatic weapon to kill 19 elementary students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
Throughout his talk, O’Rourke railed against his opponent, incumbent governor Greg Abbott. O’Rourke accused Abbott of promoting and signing laws that have added to the mounting statistics of mass shootings and gun violence in the State, including the Uvalde school massacre.
O’Rourke told the audience that the governor “has done nothing” to help curb gun violence in the state. He asked the audience to sign up as volunteers in his campaign.
At least one heckler temporarily interrupted O’Rourke, shouting an opposing view about O’Rourke’s stand on gun laws. The audience booed and shouted down the heckler who wore a business suit and tie.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins introduced O-Rourke. Other elected officials and candidates in the audience included Senator Royce West; State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, Democratic nominee to succeed Congresswoman Johnson in Texas District 30; State Rep. Carl Sherman; Deb Peoples, candidate for Tarrant County Judge and former chair of the Tarrant County Democratic Party. Former Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway, who served four months as Dallas interim mayor, also mingled, shaking hands with the audience.