Today works one year since the 19 elementary school children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas.
While the security failures are still being scrutinized, Galen Gonzalez, a 10-year-old survivor of the attack has been speaking out against gun violence here in the U.S.. She hopes such a tragedy can be prevented in the future.
Her parents now speak about how they have been coping in the aftermath.
>> Thank you.
Thank you both for joining us.
You are the parents of 10-year-old Caitlin and she was in elementary school that day when so many of her friends were gunned down.
Now here we are about a year later and we are talking and I just want to know how she is doing.
>> At the one-year mark, now that the one year mark is today, I guess it is we have all just been stuck on May 24 so she has been taking the days as they come.
There was an increase in symptoms associated to PTSD that were manifesting as there when your approach.
We tried to be with her every day as she pushes through.
>> What is she like now since in this past year, compared to the day that you dropped her off?
>> I think she has had to do a lot of growing up since May 24, prior to that, she has always been that outgoing, spontaneous, very charismatic little girl.
She has also been looking into other data into learning about the mass shootings.
She has come across and met a lot of mass shootings survivors.
What 11-year-old is that?
Nowadays it has become her new norm and this is what surviving a mass shooting does to a victim.
>> She lost her best friend, Jackie.
Tell me how PTSD -- how does this manifest itself in your daughter on a day-to-day basis?
>> There are a lot of triggers.
Any little bump, anything will trigger it, sirens.
She is just concerned, what was that noise?
I am a veteran and I feel like she should not feel that way here in the United States.
She should have the freedom to feel safe.
But she doesn't, she has lost all respect work law enforcement because in her mind, she feels they failed.
It has been proven that they failed.
No other mass shooting has this.
To me, it is just a lack of courage, that was the only excuse.
>> Do you see improvement?
Things your daughter could not do a few months ago that she is able to do now?
>> It might seem like little improvements to somebody else but to us they are huge improvements.
My wife slept with her for nine months after the shooting.
She was just paranoid and we have seen now she is able to sleep by herself, she had to have her whole room lit up because she is afraid of the dark and little by little she has been dimming those lights.
We have seen improvements but she still needs more.
>> I'm assuming that is a veteran, you have had friends in the service you know that have suffered from PTSD, to see your daughter go through this, what is that like?
>> I feel that she has been robbed of her childhood because first she had to deal with the pandemic and then the shooting and these things -- I don't think a 10 year old should go through this stuff.
I feel that she has been robbed of her childhood and now she has taken another road to become an activist.
I wish he had never gone through this so she could live her child life.
>> What is it when you talk to her, what is motivating her to do this?
A lot of 10 and 11-year-olds, this is not their interest or direction.
A lot of adults don't want to speak in public in front of people and your daughter is standing in front of legislators.
Speaking publicly and advocating.
Question feels that no child should go to school scared.
She won't back down.
She is committed to this and that is surprising to us, we never saw the side of her.
Having such an interest in this.
It all comes from her, we don't pressure, she's the one in total control.
If you ever feel like she doesn't want to do anything, we don't do it.
We are just there to take her to Washington.
To Austin, the Capitol, this is all she wants to do, she demands these changes.
>> One of the changes you're advocating for?
>> We are advocating for gun reform.
We are by no means trying to take away the guns of law-abiding citizens.
That is one thing we have heard.
We are trying to infringe on your Second Amendment.
He was able to purchase assault weapons.
Had he been 21, he would not have been able to.
We want background checks, something we can meet halfway.
We know that Texas is a gun loving state.
Making changes like this will be hard.
But that is not something we are willing to back down on.
>> In Texas, there was a proposal to try to move the age of acquired weapon from 18 to 21.
It did not make it.
How did you all take that?
Because it was a disappointment.
Because my ultimate goal is been all assault weapons.
I have handled these weapons in the military.
They are not toys.
They just belong in war.
I don't see the purpose of us having them here.
I am willing to compromise.
We are not asking for much.
From 18 to 21, I just feel that any changes we do, it will be a positive change.
If we don't have any changes, we will have the same result.
I just feel I can't accept as being our lifestyle in the United States, or norm.
It is unacceptable for me.
>> I have spoken to different survivors of these incidents and when I speak to the kids, one of the things the kids say is grown-ups push back at them and say you have been caused by your parents or you are part of and as I gun lobby.
Have you or Kayla based that kind of criticism?
I would say there has been more positive feedback than negative.
However, there is a small amount of people that have made some comments as to we have coaster or written her speeches and to them I say it is totally fictitious.
Never have we coaster or pushed her into speaking at any of the rallies or local school board meetings.
We were never want to speak out.
We were never political by any means.
We never considered ourselves activists.
She was affected in such a big way, it affected our family, it pushed us to want to make changes.
For the families and their children.
>> Has the community grown closer?
Are there different divisions?
>> Initially, we felt very united, the whole community came together.
Everybody helping each other.
Grieving and now it seems there is division in our community.
I don't understand why that division.
We are all here together and we are trying to reach a certain goal, why is there division?
>> Why are people divided?
>> The one that bothers me the most is that there are some people that think some of these kids are not victims.
I feel everybody is a victim even if you weren't there, we are victims of this gun violence and I just don't see why there is that division.
>> Do you feel that people have said Kayla was a victim because she was in shock?
>> There has been talk and quit honestly, just the mere fact that she had to escape through a window, that to me is a survivor.
No she wasn't physically shot, she escaped with some bruises and scrapes but the mental scars, she is living with PTSD and anxiety and she is just one of many victims that day.
>> Can you tell me how does a little girl process the loss of her best friend in this way?
What does she do on a daily or weekly basis?
How often is she thinking about Jackie or visiting her grave?
I don't know how a little child would do this.
>> I would say she is -- I have a daily reminder of them.
I can just imagine her.
I am sure she things about them on a daily basis and just yesterday, we were talking about going in a cemetery.
We know that is a play she is going to be going to.
As hard as it is to comprehend, the cemetery has become a place for comfort because those were her friends are resting.
Still, there are times when she likes to go bike riding and go play ball and blow bubbles.
For an ordinary person, it brings sadness and I am sure she knows the sadness.
>> What do you hope your daughter?
Given we are when you're away and you don't see the town healing in the way it did immediately after the shooting?
>> Changes, we need changes, that is what I'm hoping she gets and we all get.
I want her to go back to her normal self and realistically I think we won't get that child back after May 24.
It saddens me because to me, as a father, I am a protector, a provider.
I feel like I failed as a father as protecting her.
I work for a school district as a plumber.
I guarantee you if I was there I would have done something to stop that threat.
After the shooting, I felt guilty, I felt I should have been there.
I feel like I should have protected these could somehow and I felt guilty, bothered.
I feel a little different now but it just bothers me I wasn't there.
Quick those were the parents of Caitlin Gonzales, survivor of the Robb Elementary shooting.
Thank you for joining us.