Yesterday, 19 children and two teachers were killed during a mass shooting in the small town of Uvalde in my home state of Texas. Several other children are critically injured fighting for their lives. An entire country is left mourning yet another community of families whose children went to school and never made it home.

Like many of you, our family is devastated by this shooting. We have hugged our daughter a little tighter. We have cried. We have grieved for the families – not only of this tragedy – but all families that have been touched by gun violence and who are re-living their own trauma in this moment.

It comes at a time when parents are typically celebrating with our children – from school awards ceremonies to graduation. Our own 5-year-old daughter just celebrated her graduation from pre-K a little over a week ago. Emma and her 13 classmates walked across their graduation stage and told an audience of friends and family members what they were going to be when they grew up. They held up pictures they had drawn and said things like “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be an actress” or “I want to be a ninja.” Our daughter confidently said, “I want to be a paleontologist.”

It was an extremely proud moment for everyone there. And I know that those families in Uvalde had that same moment just a few years ago. That same moment when they heard the aspirations of their children. And now all of those aspirations are gone. Ended. For an act of violence that is completely within our control to prevent.

Uziyah Garcia. Amy Jo Garza. Xavier Lopez. Annabelle Rodriguez. Nevaeh Bravo. Jackie Cazares. Amerie Jo Garza. Eliahna Garcia. These are some of the names of the 19 children killed, all 8-10 years old. In seeing the names and pictures of these children, I can’t help but feel a different bond to this community. This is MY community. These children look like my brother and sisters. They look like my cousins and nephews. They look like my daughter.

We can honor their memory by reaffirming our commitment to end gun violence and make our communities safe for all of our children. All of that pain, that anger, that fear, that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach – take that and channel it into action. Contact your elected officials and hold them accountable. Join incredible organizations like Moms Demand Action, Everytown, Sandy Hook Promise – grassroots organizations that have already made a difference in a number of states in pushing to pass commonsense legislation that has already saved countless lives.

As a candidate aspiring to be elected to an office with direct control over state legislation, I am committed to putting the safety and lives of our children first. Not just after a tragedy like this. Not some days. But every day. We cannot wait to “one day” have safe communities. We need that now. If not, why are we even here?