An anti-gun violence tour led by parents who lost their son in a 2018 mass shooting in Florida, visit Uvalde, Texas, — site of last year’s attack on Robb Elementary School which left 21 people dead.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
A converted yellow school bus will arrive today in El Paso, Texas. Yesterday it was in Uvalde, and before that it was in Santa Fe, Texas. All three are locations of mass shootings. The school bus is traveling across America, stopping at the scenes of modern massacres, as part of a new effort to raise awareness about gun violence. David Martin Davies of Texas Public Radio met up with a tour in Uvalde.
DAVID MARTIN DAVIES, BYLINE: Stop gun violence is painted on the side of the bus, and it’s on a nationwide road trip organized by Manuel and Patricia Oliver. Five years ago, their son, Joaquin Oliver, was one of 17 people killed in the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
MANUEL OLIVER: The number one goal here is to create awareness. I don’t have the power to do anything else.
DAVIES: Manuel Oliver says he’s hoping that by connecting the multiple mass shootings, he’s able to amplify his message that something needs to be done about gun violence in America. He’d like to see a ban on assault-style weapons. And on this national tour, he’s also connecting on a personal level with families that have suffered a loss similar to his.
OLIVER: I see Brett, a father from Uvalde that now he’s – I consider my friend, and I see him and we connect.
DAVIES: Brett is Brett Cross. His son, Uziyah Garcia, was killed along with 18 other children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He says working with the Olivers has helped him deal with his grief.
BRETT CROSS: They’ve become family, you know. Us in this club, we become family because we’re the only ones that know what this feels like. And we don’t want anybody else to have to feel this way.
DAVIES: Rhonda Hart’s 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was killed in the Santa Fe, Texas, high school shooting, along with seven classmates and two teachers. She’s standing in front of the school bus in the 103-degree heat and speaking to a crowd who wants to see tougher gun laws.
RHONDA HART: The only reason we haven’t had a school shooting for the last five or six weeks is because school was out of session.
DAVIES: Manuel Oliver says the tour in his son’s honor will visit 25 cities affected by mass shootings. He’s hoping to build momentum and eventually end in Washington, D.C., with a caravan of school buses to make a huge statement.
For NPR News, I’m David Martin Davies in Uvalde, Texas.
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