This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Family members and supporters of some of the Uvalde school shooting victims offered emotional testimony Thursday at the Texas Capitol.
Their remarks were part of a joint session of the House Homeland Security & Public Safety committee and the House Youth Health & Safety select committee.
“I’m here begging you guys to do something,” Uvalde High School student Jazmin Cazares told the panel of 27 lawmakers.
Cazares lost her nine-year-old sister Jacklyn “Jackie” Cazares and her 10-year-old cousin Annabell Rodriguez in the school massacre that took the lives of 19 Robb Elementary School students and two teachers on May 24.
“This morning around 5:30, I sat on my sister’s bed and I cried and I cried,” Cazares said. “Maybe a minute later, I wiped my tears, got in my car and traveled four hours to get here. I shouldn’t have to be here right now.”
Wearing a t-shirt with her sister’s photo on it and with her family seated behind her, Cazares expressed frustration with the school’s safety measures and the response by law enforcement.
“The people who were supposed to keep [Jackie] safe at school didn’t,” she said. “They failed.”
Outside the hearing, Cazares told KXAN she felt compelled to be the voice for her sister and hopes lawmakers will act.
“I know that [Jackie} was here, she would be talking just as much as I would. So, I’m doing that for her,” she said.
The House committees are charged with gathering information and preparing reports on school safety, gun violence and mental health challenges.
No legislation can be passed during the interim hearings. That will be up to the full legislature, which will next meet in January.
Before Thursday’s joint hearing, members of the Texas Democratic House Caucus held a news conference, once again calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to immediately address issues of school security and, particularly, guns.
“This issue is bigger than politics,” said Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie). “Any elected leader should look at it through that lens, about doing what’s right for the people of Texas, not what’s right in the political context.”
Earlier in the week, the Governor’s Office said all options remain on the table.
“Governor Abbott has taken immediate action to address all aspects of the heinous crime in Uvalde, including issuing six directives to make schools safer,” said a spokesperson in a statement, adding that more announcements would come.