Texas – Dallas Metro News, a Dallas local news outlet, reported that on Monday, May 3rd, an emotional news conference was held in Austin, Texas, where Democratic state lawmakers and families of the victims of the 2020 mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde called upon the Texas Legislature to pass new legislation aimed at improving gun safety. Representatives from both the State Senate and Texas House of Representatives were in attendance to discuss House Bill 2744, which is currently under review by the House Select Committee on Community Safety.
The proposed legislation, House Bill 2744, outlines crucial reforms, such as raising the minimum age for purchasing AR-style firearms to 21 and prohibiting gun sales to individuals under the influence of alcohol or those with an active protective order. Although the bill has been presented to the committee, no action has been taken thus far. Notably, it is the sole gun safety bill filed by Texas Democrats to receive any consideration or a hearing.
The renewed focus on gun violence follows the tragic mass shooting in Allen on Saturday, the repercussions of which are yet to be seen in the Texas Legislature during its final weeks in session. Although Democratic lawmakers have attempted to advance gun safety legislation, they lack the necessary votes for passage. State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), who represents Uvalde, has filed several gun safety-related bills, including Senate Bill 144, aimed at preventing dangerous individuals from possessing guns through court orders, and Senate Bill 145, which raises the minimum age for selling any firearm to 21. Neither of these bills has been reviewed by a committee.
Both bills were referred to the State Affairs Committee on February 15th. In light of the recent shooting in Allen, Senator Gutierrez expressed concerns, emphasizing the need for Texas lawmakers to display political courage in addressing the ongoing gun violence crisis. He criticized the current Republican administration for its relaxed gun laws in Texas.
Governor Abbott is concentrating on passing legislation to increase mental health spending by $3 billion this session. However, as the legislative session’s conclusion approaches in three weeks, the likelihood of approving any bills is diminishing. With Republican majorities in both the Texas House and Senate opposing new gun restrictions, the passage of gun safety legislation faces significant hurdles. The willingness of Texas lawmakers to take the essential steps to ensure gun safety in the state remains uncertain.