WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, meanwhile, back here in Washington, President Biden also marked the anniversary of this tragedy, and he again appealed for congressional action.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: How many more parents will live their worst nightmare before we stand up the gun lobby to establish universal background checks, establish a national red flag laws, require safe storage of firearms, and end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers, the only -- the only major corporate entity that doesn't have this immunity to liability?
Even a majority of responsible gun owners support these commonsense actions to save lives and keep our communities safe.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This concern about guns and the violence that I done with them is growing in this country.
Our latest "NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll finds that four in 10 Americans believe schools in their own communities are not safe from gun violence.
Half of all U.S. parents with kids under 18 know someone who has experienced gun violence, and six out of 10 Americans now say it's more important to control gun violence than to protect gun rights.
That's up 11 percent since the Sandy Hook massacre.
But Republicans and Democrats have long had very different views about what practically can be done.
And that brings us back to Amna in Uvalde.
AMNA NAWAZ: Former Republican Congressman Will Hurd is one of just a few in his party calling for meaningful gun reform.
He represented Uvalde for six years in Congress serving Texas' 23rd Congressional District.
And I spoke with him just moments ago.
Thanks for joining us here.
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Of course.
AMNA NAWAZ: You heard some of the frustration from those families about the lack of action after their children and loved ones were killed.
What's your message to them as you're here today?
REP. WILL HURD: Well, the message to the families is, I'm sorry, and keep fighting, and keep telling the stories, right, because that's what's going to ultimately get these elected officials to come around.
I can't even begin to imagine what the loss of a child, right, and it's the worst -- it's the worst pain that anybody can ever have.
And, unfortunately, I saw that at a young age, when I was at Texas A&M University, when a bonfire collapsed, different story, different issue, right, but having a talk to parents when I was 22.
They say -- parents asked me, don't let this happen to anybody, I just don't know how any elected official that is talking to a parent who has suffered the worst loss that they will ever have just is not willing to do some of these commonsense things that could solve this problem.
We know, if you move -- if you turn the age to have a high-caliber rifle to go from 18 to 21, which is -- it's -- you have to be 21 to get a handcuff -- that alone would have changed Uvalde, and would have changed the lives of 21 families.
And so, to the parents, that I know it's hard for them to wake up during the day.
I know it's hard for them to sit in the room of their child, their 9-year-old child who is gone.
But it's going to be -- it's going to be their efforts and telling their stories that is going to see some change.
We saw it here in Texas at the Statehouse.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
REP. WILL HURD: Now, that piece of legislation didn't become signed into law.
AMNA NAWAZ: That's right.
REP. WILL HURD: But it was movement.
And it was because of the parents of Uvalde.
AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you about some of the things you have been calling for specifically, because, as you have mentioned in a recent piece you wrote for "The Atlantic," some of those measures, like raising that age from 18 to 21, or criminal background checks, red flag laws, those have broad support in among the American public.
REP. WILL HURD: Right.
AMNA NAWAZ: But so did universal background checks.
REP. WILL HURD: That's right.
AMNA NAWAZ: And when you were in Congress, you were one of just a handful of Republicans to vote for that.
REP. WILL HURD: Right.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, if your Republican colleagues couldn't vote for that back then, what makes you think they'd vote for something the majority of Americans support today?
REP. WILL HURD: Well, look, it's a good question.
And I wish I had the answers, right?
And I think I was one of eight maybe back then, when that happened.
And the reality is, responsible gun owners believe in background checks, right?
Like, I don't know anybody who owns a gun who hasn't been through a background check.
People that, whether this is their livelihood, or they do it for sport or whatever, like, responsible gun owners believe people should have a background check.
That's that simple.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, what is keeping the majority of Republicans from supporting that?
REP. WILL HURD: Look, lot of Republicans are concerned that they're going to have people on Twitter or social media criticize them, and be like, oh, this is going to impact you in an election in the future, and you're going to potentially lose a primary.
That's ultimately the fear.
And... AMNA NAWAZ: Is that a valid fear?
REP. WILL HURD: I don't think it's a valid fear, right, because I always tell people, like, listen, I have, as -- the similar problems and a primary that anybody else had, right?
And I was still able to survive, because you have got to be willing to go and explain why these things matter.
And I'm sorry.
Like, you just can't look a parent in the eye and feel like there's nothing you can do.
And if somebody says, there's nothing you can do, they're lying, right, because there are several commonsense steps that are supported by Republican primary voters, that are supported by Democratic primary voters that prevent this metamorphosis of someone into a mass murderer.
AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you about the mental health piece of this too.
REP. WILL HURD: Yes.
AMNA NAWAZ: You have called for that.
A number of others have as well.
As you know, after the Uvalde shooting, there was a bipartisan congressional bill, had some gun control measures, also had a billion dollars in school funding for mental health staff.
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
AMNA NAWAZ: The majority of Republicans did vote against that.
So how do you see the actions of your Republican colleagues matching up with the calls for more mental health resources?
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
Well, look, I think the proof is in the pudding, right?
People always want to talk a big game, but it depends on -- it depends on your actions.
And when we look at -- well, first off, we need to start treating mental health in the United States as health, because it is.
Do people know who to call?
If somebody are -- today, this afternoon, gets -- sees something on social media that someone they know are going to -- are exhibiting a dangerous behavior, do they know what to do and who to call?
And if they do find the right person to call, does that -- do they have the resources to respond to that to prevent that action from happening?
And these are some of the basic infrastructure that's not in place, also some of the basic training that you don't have in schools and in businesses on how to -- on how to respond when you have this.
So, look, a lot of people talk a big game.
It's in their action.
But here's ultimately what's going to have to happen.
For people that care about this, more than half of our teenagers are worried about going to school because they think they're going to get shot.
That's 25 million kids.
And then add the parents on top of that, right, who are equally as concerned.
If you don't think that is a problem, right -- or if you're one of those people that are concerned, then you need to get involved.
You need to go vote and not just vote in November.
You have got to vote in primaries .You got to get more -- and I don't care what your political affiliation is.
You got to say, hey, this -- enough is enough.
And there's always people in those primaries that probably are a little bit better than what our options are in November.
That's the kind of activism that we're going to need in order to see and change abilities.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the few seconds I have left, speaking of primaries, you were asked recently if you would join the Republican primary presidential field.
You said you would make a decision by Memorial Day weekend.
That is this weekend.
REP. WILL HURD: Sure.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, are you running?
REP. WILL HURD: So, actually, I said I'd make a decision soon, right?
And if I have the opportunity to serve my country, I will.
And I plan on making a decision real soon.
AMNA NAWAZ: OK. Former Congressman Will Hurd, thank you for joining us.
REP. WILL HURD: Thank you.