Texas Passes Gun Control Legislation After Months of Protests by Uvalde Families
Nearly a year after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, families of the deceased are finding solace in legislation.
On May 8, the Texas House Panel voted 8-5 to raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle in the state from 18 to 21. A video from the Texas House Select Committee on Community Safety shows Uvalde families gathered to hear the result after months of protesting for gun control reform.
Filed by Democratic representative Tracy King, House Bill 2744 still has a long road ahead to becoming state law. The vote comes just two days after another shooting in Texas at Allen Premium Outlets, where eight people died.
Uvalde families demand justice for their loved ones
After the Robb Elementary shooting on May 24, 2022, many Uvalde residents became avid gun control advocates.
On Monday, protestors chanted “raise the age” as the Texas House Select Committee members walked through the building.
Before voicing their requests on May 8, many parents of deceased children from Robb Elementary’s shooting responded to other shootings. In a state that has previously rejected campaigns for gun control legislation, families have used active responses as means to discuss Greg Abbott‘s shortcomings as the state’s governor.
Additionally, there have been multiple demonstrations over the last year involving Uvalde parents. For instance, there was a March For Our Lives gathering in Austin last September. On Monday, families cheered following their months of advocacy as the panel voted to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21.
NPR reporter, Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, noted that Republicans and Democrats alike hugged Uvalde parents after the vote.
What house bill 2744 entails
A Democratic Representative from Uvalde named Tracy O. King initially filed his bill on February 23. House Bill 2744, known colloquially as the “raise the age” bill, made its way to the Texas House panel on Community Safety in March.
From there, the bill was the subject of multiple public hearings before the committee voted on May 8. The bill’s text aims to penalize individuals who provide guns to people who knowingly intend harm.
Additionally, the bill specifies that people under the age of 21 should not have access to “a semiautomatic rifle that is capable of accepting a detachable magazine and that has a caliber greater than .22.”
Those who break the laws proposed in the new legislation would become convicted felons. However, the bill does stipulate exceptions for peace officers, members of the United States Armed Forces, or honorably discharged veterans.
Governor Abbott will not consider gun control despite legislation
Even after the Allen outlet mall shooting, Texas Governor Abbott refused to acknowledge the need for gun control legislation. In an interview with Fox News, he turned to mental health services as a “long-term solution.”
A study cited by the National Alliance on Mental Illness reveals that people struggling with mental illness are responsible for just 4% of all violence in the United States. Instead, gun violence often correlates with young men exposed to violence, especially domestic violence, at a young age.
According to the Texas Advocacy Project, 1 in 3 Texans experience some form of domestic violence in their lives. In 2021, Texas saw 204 deaths as a result of domestic violence. A recent report involving data from the FBI concluded that Texas is the 11th most dangerous state in the country.