A middle school student in Iowa broke down in tears while asking Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke how he’d stop school shootings if elected.
The emotional moment occurred Monday during a campaign stop for O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, at Berg Middle School in Newton, Iowa.
“Almost one week ago there was a school shooting at UNC Charlotte in North Carolina,” said the young woman, identified only as Milan by O’Rourke’s campaign. “Riley Howell died protecting his peers from the shooter.”
Unfortunately, the death of students and faculty aren’t the only problems going on. Surviving a school shooting can give victims PTSD and survivor’s guilt. These issues can lead to suicide. In one case, a Parkland survivor, Sydney Aiello, suffered from both of these conditions and committed suicide a year after the shooting.
Shootings, in general, are bloodthirsty attacks perpetrated to instill fear and harm innocent people. Ever since Columbine and Sandy Hook, school shootings have become regular occurrences in the news. Society is becoming numb to children being slaughtered. Victims and survivors aren’t just numbers. They are human beings.
Milan, through sobs, lamented that Washington lawmakers have made “little to no effort” to protect schools from the epidemic of gun violence.
“I’m afraid that one day I’ll go to school and I’ll never come out,” she said. “What actions will you take to protect people like me and my classmates from this happening?”
After thanking Milan for her powerful question, O’Rourke said, if elected, he would expand background checks on gun buyers, ban “weapons of war” from being sold to civilians and support the passage of red flag laws, which allow law enforcement officials to temporarily seize firearms from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.
“You’re forcing people in power to do the right thing right now,” O’Rourke told Milan. “There’s no reason ... that we lose more than 30,000 of our fellow Americans to gun violence every year.”
“There is a way for us to change this,” he continued. “Those states that have adopted universal background checks without exceptions have seen a near 50% reduction in gun violence. As president, I want to make sure that we do this for every state, every single person, within America.”
Since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, which left 15 dead, over 300 people have been killed and more than 450 others have been injured in school shootings, according to Newsweek.
Watch more from O’Rourke’s meeting with Berg Middle School students below:
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.