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Texas school massacre highlights differences between Gov. Abbott and challenger Beto O'Rourke

While Gov. Greg Abbott says the focus should be on mental health, Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke says only gun restrictions and regulations will work.

HOUSTON — Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke got up from his chair in the audience to take aim at Gov. Greg Abbott during an update from state officials in Uvalde on Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to other statements, O'Rourke pointed to the governor and shouted, "This is on you until you choose to do something!"

He was escorted out of the news conference soon after that.

The exchange has put a spotlight on the candidates’ opposing positions on Texas' gun ownership laws and how best to prevent potential school shootings in the future.

RELATED: Uvalde school mass shooting: What we know about the victims

The elected officials at the press conference called O'Rourke’s interruption inappropriate and a political stunt.

After O'Rourke was escorted from the auditorium, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate continued his criticism of the governor's gun policy outdoors.

“You want a solution? Stop selling AR-15s in the state of Texas," O'Rourke said. "You want a solution? Have universal background checks, we don’t have them. You want a solution? Red flag laws or extreme orders for protection which stop a shooting before it happens. You want a solution? Safe storage laws.”

O’rourke is an advocate for stricter gun laws. He is a supporter of universal background checks in order to purchase firearms. He’s also a proponent of "red flag laws."

These allow law enforcement or family members to petition a court and request an individual’s firearms to be seized if that person is a danger to him/herself or someone else.

During the Democratic presidential primaries, O'Rourke advocated for an assault weapons ban. His plan would force owners of AR-15s and AK-47s to sell the weapons to the government.

O'Rourke also is an advocate for safe storage laws, which would require gun owners to store their weapons in a specific manner so they are not accessible to children or others.

Abbott’s position on gun control is very different. Last year, Abbott signed legislation allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit.

On Wednesday, he re-stated his long-held position that the problem is not the guns, it’s the shooters.

“Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period," Abbott said. "We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and do something about it.”

Abbott said leaders in Uvalde told him their biggest issue is a lack of mental health resources.

"They said, 'We have a problem with mental health illness in this community ... and the need for more mental health support in this region,'" Abbott said.

After the Santa Fe High School shooting, the Texas legislature passed laws that provided funding for upgrades to campus security and created a standard for campus safety.

Abbott said legislators will now be looking for ways to improve what was already done in 2019. The bottom line is the governor is not in favor of new gun restrictions.

"There are more people that are shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in school shootings in Texas," Abbott said. "And we need to realize that, people who think that, 'Well, maybe if we implement tougher gun laws, it’s going to solve it,' Chicago, L.A. and New York disprove that thesis.”

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