UVALDE, Texas -- Surrounded by fellow Republicans on a high school stage, Gov. Greg Abbott was wrapping up his opening remarks about the killing of school children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas, when Beto O'Rourke strode forward from his seat in the audience.
"Gov. Abbott, I have something to say," the Democrat challenging Abbott for governor this fall said Wednesday, pointing a finger at his rival. "The time to stop the next shooting is right now, and you are doing nothing."
A mix of boos and cheers rose up from the crowd as the former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate briefly spoke before being escorted from the room. Sen. Ted Cruz, standing behind Abbott, shook his head and said "sit down!" while one woman in the crowd chanted, "Let him speak."
And with that, the briefing transformed into an argument similar to the one happening in many corners of America after yet another school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
Democrats want to talk about enacting restrictions on who can possess a firearm and what type of weapons should be available, while Republicans say such laws are meaningless and prefer to focus on other issues like school security -- or to avoid the discussion at all.
"We need all Texans to in this one moment in time put aside their own agendas, think of somebody other than ourselves, think about the people who are hurt," Abbott said immediately after O'Rourke exited, his voice rising.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, taking the microphone moments later, insisted it was time now to focus on the victims and their families, adding: "This is not a partisan issue. This is not a political issue."
Meanwhile, O'Rourke stood outside in the parking lot, where he continued calling for gun control.
"If we do nothing, we will continue to see this," he said, "year after year, school after school, kid after kid."
Information for this article was contributed by Jake Bleiberg of The Associated Press.