Beto O’Rourke, running for Texas governor, on Friday participated in a debate against incumbent Greg Abbott at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Talking about the mass shooting in Uvalde, O’Rourke slammed Abbott’s lack of action. The 50-year-old quoted the Texas governor from May when he said that the situation ‘could have been worse’. 

 Parents of some of the 19 children killed in the Uvalde school massacre travelled to attend the debate on Friday. However, live audience was not allowed. 

Also read: On gun control: Greg Abbott says can’t raise age, Beto O’Rourke says definitely possible

The presence of five Uvalde families in the southern Rio Grande Valley, a border region that is hosting the debate and has emerged as a central backdrop for November’s midterm elections, underscored the sustained anger over one of America’s deadliest classroom shootings and how the tragedy has refocused the competitive governor’s race.

“This is more than just a political race. Lives are on the line,” said Felix Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in the shooting.

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Talking about gun violence, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee said that  is the leading cause of death among children and young adults. O’Rourke added that he would ensure ‘war weapons’ don’t land up in the hands of 18-year-olds. 

Greg Abbott maintained school shootings are a result of mental illness and a legislation to raise the age of obtaining weapons is unlikely to aid in the process of ending gun violence.

Both O’ Rourke and Abbott agreed that no more money “should” go toward Operation Lone Star.

“Because it should be the Biden Administration footing the bill and fixing the problem, not Texas,” governor Abbott said. 

“Because Operation Lone Star is a failure,” his democratic opponent added.