An Iowa middle school student cried while asking Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke how he plans to address gun violence and stop school shootings.
Milan Underberg, a student at Berg Middle School in Newton, Iowa, mentioned to O'Rourke that Riley Howell, a student at UNC Charlotte in North Carolina, "died protecting his peers" in a school shooting last week.
She continued, touching upon such topics as PTSD, survivor's guilt, and the suicide of Sydney Aiello, who survived 2018's Parkland shooting:
"Unfortunately, the death of students and faculty aren't the only problems going on. Surviving a school shooting can give victims PTSD and survivor's guilt. These issues can lead to suicide. In one case, a Parkland survivor, Sydney Aiello, suffered from both of these conditions and committed suicide a year after the shooting."
"Shootings, in general, are bloodthirsty attacks perpetrated to instill fear and harm innocent people. Ever since Columbine and Sandy Hook, school shootings have become regular occurrences in the news. Society is becoming numb to children being slaughtered. Victims and survivors aren't just numbers. They are human beings."
Underberg cried as she noted that lawmakers in Washington have done little to curb such violence and have still not taken the appropriate steps for nationwide gun reform.
She asked O'Rourke what he plans to do:
"I'm afraid that one day I'll go to school and I'll never come out. What actions will you take to protect people like me and my classmates from this happening?"
O'Rourke thanked Underberg, then assured her that if elected he would expand background checks on gun buyers, ban "weapons of war"––a reference to automatic weaponry––and would support the passage of laws that would permit law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from individuals who pose a threat to themselves and others.
He went on to say:
"You're forcing people in power to do the right thing right now. There's no reason ... that we lose more than 30,000 of our fellow Americans to gun violence every year."
"There is a way for us to change this. Those states that have adopted universal background checks without exceptions have seen a near 50% reduction in gun violence. As president, I want to make sure that we do this for every state, every single person, within America."
You can watch the exchange in the video below, which O'Rourke shared to his Twitter followers:
Milan asked what we are going to do to combat gun violence so no student has to fear a school shooting happening in… https://t.co/AFGWqGWEmI— Beto O'Rourke (@Beto O'Rourke)1557157615.0
Many chimed in, expressing their support for Underberg, and pledged to see that the United States passes gun reform.
@BetoORourke I wish I could tell this girl how sorry I am for what we are doing to our kids. Please keep fighting a… https://t.co/OGL5FCn5gM— Kelly Belly (@Kelly Belly)1557158196.0
@BetoORourke Great response, Beto! As a retired middle school teacher and principal, I'm very happy to see you addr… https://t.co/C4gIuWL5iX— AKRoca (@AKRoca)1557170138.0
@BetoORourke Wonderful response on such an important issue. Nice to see you take time out of your busy schedule to talk to kids in school.— Anne Brooks (@Anne Brooks)1557170141.0
@BetoORourke We need to ensure that our classrooms and our children are safe from gun violence. No child should hav… https://t.co/3YkaURwwLL— New Jersey for Beto (@New Jersey for Beto)1557167982.0
Underberg herself responded soon afterward, thanking O'Rourke for giving her "the chance to voice my concerns."
@BetoORourke It was an honor to have this ginormous platform given to me. I’m glad that I got the chance to voice m… https://t.co/WJw7nTakNG— Milan Underberg (@Milan Underberg)1557172493.0
O'Rourke's stances have raised the ire of conservatives and made him a lightning rod for criticism on Fox News. In March, Fox News host Pete Hegseth urged viewers to purchase more AR-15s in response to O'Rourke's calls for comprehensive gun reform.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) that analyzed around 200 active shooting incidents in America, active shooters who use semi-automatic rifles will double their chances of wounding and killing victims, in comparison to another type of gun.