An organisation started by former Representative Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, held a rally in Houston with student activists, to encourage people to vote. But gun rights are strong in Texas, and guns are part of the culture.
“These are scary times,” said Giffords from a stage at the University of Houston on Friday evening, with some difficulty, as she was shot in the head in 2011, and still has trouble talking.
She was able to give a short speech, encouraging people to vote. She and her husband Mark Kelley, a retired astronaut, have been on the campaign trail going to places with contested elections like Texas.
Their organisation gave this state an F, the lowest grade, on gun safety. He said they have been traveling around the United States to encourage people to elect candidates who will “do something on this issue of gun violence, an issue that makes our country stand out in absolutely the worst of ways.”
'Legislation works, laws matter'
It is clear what works to curb gun violence, he said: “We know that legislation works, laws matter.” Kelly and Giffords were joined by student activists, some of whom survived school shootings, like David Hogg, 18, who survived the massshooting at his high school in Parkland, Florida, in February.
Florida, like Texas, has a strong culture of gun ownership, and the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, which protects the right to beararms, is important. This is why Hogg argued from the stage that the debate should not focus on being “pro gun” or “anti gun”. Instead, it should be approached like the push for safer cars.
“The people that advocated for safer cars and roads were not anti-car or pro-car, they were pro people not dying. We are pro people not dying!,” he said.
Marcel McClinton, is part of a group called The Orange Generation, which advocates for gun violence protection, not gun control, which he says makes it sound as though activists are against guns.
"I'm not in this movement to control your guys, I don't want my hands on your gun,” he told RFI, referring to gun owner arguments against gun control, who say that legislation will take away all rights to gun ownership.
“I’m in this because I want to prevent gun violence. I don’t want to ban all guns. That would mean my dad would have to give up his guns, and I would not want that.”
McClinton grew up in Houston, and many of his friends disagree with anything having to do with gun safety regulation.
“We have discussions not debates. I don't think we change minds,” he says. Though, he says, people often concede on certain points, even if they would never call themselves gun safety advocates. “They would say I agree with this policy and that policy, but they’re not going to say I'm going to vote for gun sense.”