A mile-long yellow school bus convoy on Thursday headed to pro-gun right U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's home and office in Houston, the largest city of gun-friendly state Texas, to honor thousands of young victims of gun violence across the country and demand gun control reform.
The convoy is consisted of 52 school buses, whose empty seats represent the 4,368 children killed by guns since 2020, according to the event's organizers. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the most influential gun lobby group in the country.
Inside the lead bus, titled the NRA Children's Museum, there are photos, videos, audio recordings, and numerous personal memories of the children who have lost their lives to shootings since 2020.
The leading organizer, a gun control and anti-gun violence advocacy group called Change the Ref, said in a press release that the Thursday fleet is the official launch of The Yellow Bus Project and Houston is its first stop.
The mission of the campaign is for U.S. politicians to renounce political funding from the NRA and move to enact legislation for universal background checks on gun sales, said the press release.
"Because of politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz and the NRA, who enable assault rifles to be the best-selling gun on America's streets, the child death toll this year has hit an all-time high," the organizer said.
According to the press release, senators and house representatives representing Texas have received more than 14 million U.S. dollars in contributions from gun rights interests over their careers. Among them, Cruz is the leading recipient of gun lobbyist funding in Texas with nearly 750,000 dollars in total.
"To commemorate this horrific historic moment, we are showing American voters the toll these politicians have taken on our children's lives with this all-too-real archive," said Manuel Oliver, who co-founded Change the Ref with his wife Patricia after their son Joaquin was killed with another 16 victims in the 2018 Parkland, Florida high school shooting.
The buses on Thursday made a stop at the senator's home before heading to his office, delivering a letter written five years ago by Joaquin in which the teenager asked for background checks on gun sales.
"And this is only the beginning... We urge everyone to join us in our mission to fight for every innocent soul lost to gun violence and to demand universal background checks on gun sales," said Oliver.
"We want to display, for the voters who keep these politicians in office, the consequences of those choices. We want voters to remember which politicians are in the pocket of the NRA when they visit the polls in November," added Patricia.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that since 2020, firearms have overtaken car accidents to become the leading cause of death in children in the United States.