HOUSTON - In the nearly three weeks since the elementary school shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, federal gun control legislation has passed in the house but is expected to stall in the Senate.
Saturday, protesters across the country marched in favor of gun restrictions while one Houston group took their demonstration to the office of Senator Ted Cruz.
High school and college students, local leaders, educators, and parents made up more than 500 people sweating in a heat wave through downtown Houston during a March for Our Lives protest.
The event was organized by students pushing for gun legislation in response to the Uvalde elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
It was one of more than 300 held on the same day nationwide, calling for an end to mass shooting events in the U.S.
"Gun violence is something I have worried about my entire life," says Katherine Chen, March for Our Lives Houston Executive Director from a podium in front of City Hall. "In every other country in the world, that is something that is taken seriously, but here it is just a daily occurrence."
Other student speakers shared how mass shootings are changing their school experience.
"'E' is for eggs, elephants, elbows, and ’everybody get down," said one poet, reciting a skewed perspective of the alphabet amidst lockdown drills and fear of becoming another school shooting victim.
"I'm tired of choosing what shoes to wear to school based on how well they suit me if I have to run," shouted another speaker.
A common thread of proposed laws is woven through many of the speeches: rolling back permit-less carry, red flag laws, universal background checks, and raising the minimum age to buy a gun. The group says these are small changes that can make big differences in saving lives.
After the speeches, the mass of hundreds marched those requests to Republican Senator Ted Cruz's downtown office.
Senator Cruz, a vocal opponent of gun restrictions has also received the most political contributions from gun rights groups according to data from opensecrets.org.
A spokesperson for Cruz sent a statement in response to the protest saying,
"From the School Security Enhancement Act to the Protecting Communities Act, Sen. Cruz has introduced numerous pieces of legislation to change the status quo and keep our kids safe by improving background checks and securing schools. Additionally, research has shown that the presence of police officers in schools "decreases violent crime and disorder."
The School Security Enhancement Act has been stuck in a Senate committee since January 2021.
The Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2021 was written to improve the availability of records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System while protecting some rights of gun owners, but the bill has not moved past its primary stage since introduced in May of that year.
Meanwhile, demonstrators say their numbers are ramping up, along with their strategy.
"You get in their face, and you put them on video, and you do not let them slither away until they have faced shame," says Daniel Cohen of Indivisible Houston.
Another protestor echoes a similar strategy.
"I think we should be out here on this corner every day," says Sydney Thomas, gesturing toward Cruz’s office. "Watch him come in, throw blood, it does not matter."