Things That Matter

A Mile of School Buses Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence Appeared Outside Ted Cruz’s House

Artist, activist, and father Manuel Oliver, who lost his son Joaquin in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, has found an effective way to illustrate the impact that gun violence has had on children across the country.

Now, he’s opening the ironically-named NRA Children’s Museum and taking a procession of empty school buses on the road to every politician who’s accepted money from the NRA, or the National Rifle Association. “It’s partially with the intention that some people will think this is truly an NRA museum,” he said to BuzzFeed News.

Martin’s first stop was the home of Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has become even more notorious for his flippant response to the Uvalde shooting in his own state. Cruz was the subject of intense backlash when, just days after the Uvalde shooting, he posted online about how much fun he had playing a charity poker game, all while Uvalde parents buried their children.

Courtesy of Change the Ref

The NRA Children’s Museum’s traveling fleet is made up of 52 yellow school buses, representing the 4,368 children killed by gun violence since 2020. Inside some of the buses are items and trinkets from the children who were killed, including a LeBron James jersey to which Oliver’s son Joaquin had become attached.

After successfully organizing the mile-long procession outside of Ted Cruz’s residence in Texas, Oliver made sure to give Cruz’s security detail — who, by that point, had already begun calling the police — a note to deliver to him. The note, which was written by Joaquin Oliver five years before his death, asks gun owners across the nation why they’re so opposed to universal background checks if they’re innocent.

“I am writing this letter to talk to you about how we’re [sic] going to solve this gun law movement,” reads Joaquin’s note. “Most of you have a problem with the idea of universal back round check. Why are you mad that there’s a back round check it’s for your own good maybe you are fond of having crazy people with death machines. You shouldn’t have anything against back round checks if you’re innocent.”

Courtesy of Change the Ref

Even after leaving Cruz’s property, Oliver and his fleet of buses set up shop outside Cruz’s office, but learned that he was in the Capitol and was not available to speak with him. Still, Oliver is persisting and doesn’t plan to stop until he’s confronted every politician who has taken money from the NRA.

The NRA Children’s Museum’s official website includes a list of politicians who have taken money from the NRA, as well as a dollar figure revealing how much they’ve accepted over the years. Cruz ranks somewhere in the middle, having accepted $749,000 in donations from the NRA. Mitt Romney tops the list with a whopping $13.6 million dollars.

“We’re going after the money,” he said. “These leaders are not loyal to the Second Amendment. They’re loyal to the gun industry and manufacturers, who protect them. And there’s lots of messages that supporting gun control is not patriotic. It’s corrupt, and I wanted to find a graphic way of showing them what the impact really is.”

In addition to the NRA Children’s Museum, Oliver also interrupted a speech by President Biden this week, reports Democracy Now. The Biden administration had invited Oliver and others who had lost children and family members to gun violence to celebrate the bipartisan gun control bill that was passed this week.

However, Oliver made it clear he thought the bill would do little to quell the rash of gun violence that has swept the nation. After interrupting Biden’s speech and being escorted away by Secret Service agents, Oliver told reporters:

“What am I supposed to do today here? Listen to a package of bills that don’t solve 100% of the problem that is killing people every single day in America?” he asked. “Clap and be happy and be part of a celebration? Not me. We got a fancy invitation from the White House. It was like going to a wedding. And I’m here. I thought that I needed to be here. But I also needed to say what I said.”

Speaking, again, to BuzzFeed, Oliver hasn’t softened his stance on the new, and in his opinion ineffective, gun legislation that was signed into law earlier this week. Instead, he’s holding it up as an example of how deeply entrenched many US politicians are in the influences of gun lobbies and organizations like the NRA.

“It’s a shame on us as a nation,” he said. “We are at a point where any option is a miracle. The latest gun measures, we all know it was not enough. The guys that wrote it knew it was not enough. We think of ourselves as the most powerful nation in the world — and I hate that we’re OK with solutions that are clearly not enough.”

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