Parents of Parkland school shooting victim lead peaceful protest to Ted Cruz's home

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Thursday, July 14, 2022
52-school bus convoy honoring child shooting victims visits Ted Cruz
An anti-gun violence advocacy organization filled the buses with personal memories of the 4,368 kids who were killed in shootings since 2020.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A gun control and anti-gun violence advocacy organization is assembling a mile-long convoy of 52 buses filled with personal memories of children lost to shootings since 2020, but where are they headed? To pay Texas Senator Ted Cruz a visit on Thursday.

The video above is ABC13's 24/7 livestream.

Change the Ref is rolling out the NRA Children's Museum in Houston in a peaceful mobile fleet to Cruz's office.

But first, the buses are making a stop at the senator's home, where the organization's co-founders, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, have plans to give Cruz a gift.

That gift is a letter written five years ago by the Olivers' son, Joaquin. In that letter the then 12-year-old asks for background checks on gun sales.

Joaquin died in the Parkland school shooting in 2018.

Oliver had spent the night before he died picking out Valentine's Day flowers for his girlfriend, and he spent that morning taking extra time to get dressed for the day. Manuel told ABC News that when he dropped his son off at school that day, he asked Joaquin to call him and let him know how it went giving his girlfriend the flowers.

"And then he never called me," he said.

Manuel started Change the Ref in his son's honor dedicated to empowering the next generation of gun law activists.

They are now asking Cruz to renounce future political funding from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and enact legislation for universal background checks. It's all part of the Yellow Bus Project, which is raising awareness around politicians who receive gun lobbying money.

The NRA convention was held in Houston back in May, which drew protestors calling for greater gun reform following the mass shooting in Uvalde just hours away, claiming the lives of 19 innocent children and two teachers.

SEE RELATED STORY: Day 3 of NRA convention in Houston wraps up the weekend as protestors demand change

"We want voters to remember which politicians are in the pocket of the NRA when they visit the polls in November," said Patricia.

The child death toll has hit an all-time high. According to the CDC, since 2020, firearms have become the leading cause of death in children, marking 4,368.

Still, senators and House members representing Texas have received more than $14 million in contributions from gun rights interests over the years.

The NRA Children's Museum will be on display in the leading bus, which will be filled with everything from a Nickelodeon backpack who belonged to a shooting victim from Santa Clarita, California to a girl scout sash of another victim from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"We will not stop with Sen. Ted Cruz. To every politician who has stood by, taken NRA money, and refused to listen to the people they represent: the museum is on the way to honor you next," Manuel.

SEE RELATED STORY: Uvalde families angry over leaked surveillance video from shooting: 'It's disturbing'

Cruz's office sent the following statement Thursday afternoon in response to the procession of school buses:

"Senator Cruz is committed to enacting policies that would stop school shootings. To that end, he introduced legislation to double the number of school resource officers, hire 15,000 school-based mental health professionals to ensure there is early intervention to identify and help at-risk kids, to provide significant resources for enhanced school safety, and to improve the gun background system and prosecute persons who try to illegally buy guns."

WATCH: How Texas and Florida responded differently after school shootings

When 17 people died in a school shooting in 2018 in Parkland, Florida, state lawmakers acted swiftly. 13 Investigates how Republican-led Florida was able to enact bipartisan gun co