Mother of Santa Fe shooting victim to attend Thursday's debate

Ten Presidential candidates are preparing for the third Democratic debate in Houston on Thursday. After mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and Odessa left dozens of people dead last month, one issue on Texas voters’ minds is gun control.

A Santa Fe mother who’s dedicated her life to gun control advocacy was invited to attend the debate at Texas Southern University by former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

Rhonda Hart and her son, Tyler will be amongst the crowd at Thursday night’s Democratic debate.

Hart first met O’Rourke last year, after her 14-year-old daughter Kimberly Vaughn was one of the 10 people shot and killed at Santa Fe High School.

“Beto just reached out to me and my family a year ago when things were really, really dark and was willing to sit down with us, and establish that kind of connection and listen to us. And since then, he’s really become a friend of mine,” Hart said.  

Hart said every mass shooting since then has triggered her and other victim’s families to relive that pain over and over again.

She’s now dedicated her life to advocate for an end to gun violence.

Hart's an avid volunteer with Mom’s Demand Action. Earlier this year, Hart was invited to attend the State of the Union address, as well as sit in on a House Judiciary Committee hearing for HR-8-- a bipartisan bill that would make universal background checks for all gun sales mandatory.

“Today is 911. And let’s pretend that we continued to have a 911 style attack every single month for a year, and then one more. That is the equivalent of gun violence,” Hart said.  

Although Hart said she’s on supporting O’Rourke’s campaign till the end; her goal Thursday night is to meet as many Presidential hopefuls as she can to share her story.

“I would really like to meet as many of the candidates as I can. I feel like there’s crisis in America. And they need to have a face to go with that,” Hart said.

In addition to gun control, Hart said she would like to hear the topics of education, veterans affairs and women’s health care discussed tomorrow night.

The debates kick off at 7 p.m. at Texas Southern University.