Now it goes to the House Calendars Committee, where it will be considered for a floor vote.
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Capitol echoed the chants of passionate mothers, grieving families and other advocates of gun safety reform. Added was the decoration of the signs they kept demanding what they call common sense gun laws.
For months, groups of supporters of gun safety legislation have gathered on Capitol Hill, and on Monday, a House committee advanced a bill that supporters pushed for.
House Bill 2744, which would raise the legal age at which one could purchase a semi-automatic rifle, passed the Texas House Select Committee on Community Safety by a vote of 8-5.
The bill would prohibit the sale, rental, lease or delivery of a semi-automatic rifle larger than .22 that can accept a detachable magazine to a person under the age of 21. Currently, Texans who are 18 can purchase a semi-automatic firearm.
While HB 2744’s supporters had hoped for this outcome, the committee’s decision came as a surprise. The bill, drafted by Democratic State Representative Tracy King, was expected to be left in committee and missed the deadline for a vote by the committee, chaired by Republican State Representative Ryan Guillen.
Rep. Guillen told reporters outside the House chamber Monday morning that HB 2744 did not have the votes to advance, so he would not bring it to a committee vote.
Shortly after in the House, however, Congressman Trey Martinez Fischer motioned for HB 2744 to be brought directly to the House for debate. Following the motion, Rep. Guillen instead called a meeting of the House Select Committee. The sunken house.
The HB 2744 committee approval comes after a Monday morning press conference with the Uvalde families and Democrats who want action on gun safety legislation. Supporting the bill were Democratic Representatives Jarvis Johnson, Rhetta Bowers, Terry Canales, Vikki Goodwin, Joe Moody and Tracy King. The Republicans who voted for it were Representatives Sam Harless and Justin Holland.
Following the bill’s progress, Rep. Holland released a statement that said:
“Last session, I was proud to pass a measure making Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary state. I was also an advocate, helped pass, and believe in the unauthorized carrying of firearms for law-abiding citizens. law In the fall of 2021, I earned my third consecutive A rating from the NRA and the organization endorsed my campaign, but I have no idea if they will in the future.
“I don’t believe in gun control, and I certainly disagree with the Biden administration’s many attempts to undermine our gun rights. When I voted for a bill in committee to raise the age requirement from 18 to 21 years to purchase semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines whose caliber is greater than a .22, I did so in the full knowledge that some people would try to mischaracterize my vote and reasons for casting it.
“I’m not naïve enough to think that laws alone will prevent the kind of senseless violence that occurs all too frequently in our state. But after hearing many hours of testimony during this session, I’ve become convinced that this small change to the law could work as a significant obstacle for a young person (not old enough to buy tobacco or alcohol) acquiring a specific type of semi-automatic rifle with the intention of using it in a destructive and illegal manner. To be clear, I am not in favor of a ban on the sale or possession of these types of rifles, in fact I own several myself.
“Rather, I think raising the age required to purchase reduces the possibility of the firearm being misused without compromising our fundamental right to own and bear arms.”
The committee members who voted against the bill were Republican Representatives Ellen Troxclair, Dustin Burrows, Brooks Landgraf, Mark Dorazio and Ryan Guillen.
Shouts and applause filled the audience hall.
Since the start of the session, State Senator Roland Gutierrez has taken the lead on gun safety legislation, defending the families of the Uvalde Robb Elementary School and Santa Fe High School shootings.
“We cannot continue to wait for another tragedy for gun safety legislation. Nothing can bring back the lives we have lost, but this will help save lives in the future. We need to see this bill passed,” Senator Gutierrez said. “Semi-automatic rifles, weapons of war, are used to injure our children, errand-running families, concert-goers and food shoppers. If Texas Republicans won’t vote to help protect our families, then they better step aside.”
The families of the children killed in the Uvalde shooting, as well as Rep. King, said the shooting might not have happened had the bill passed last year.
A recent poll by the University of Texas at Austin found that a majority of Texas voters, including Republicans, support raising the minimum age to purchase all guns from 18 to 21. Even national networks, such as Fox News, have reported that at least 80 percent of people support the same gun safety reform.
The Uvalde gunman used an AR-15-style rifle, which he purchased just days after he turned 18. He bought it after unsuccessfully trying to get relatives to illegally buy him a gun.
HB 2744 now goes to the House Calendar Committee, where it will be considered for a floor vote.
House Speaker Dade Phelan said earlier this year that he doesn’t believe HB 2744 has the votes to go through the house, but he won’t obstruct the debate. Gov. Greg Abbott said the law would not be constitutional.
Rep. Burrows, one of three members of a special investigative committee that investigated the Uvalde shooting last summer and chairman of the House Calendar Committee, voted against advancing the bill on Monday. This could determine when or if HB 2744 advances to a full house for debate and a vote.
If the bill stalls under Rep. Burrows’ Calendar Committee, it will miss another deadline approaching this week: all House bills that don’t receive initial full-house approval by Thursday they immediately face tough odds of becoming law. There are a few avenues lawmakers could try to resurrect the proposal.
The Texas legislative session concludes on May 29.
KVUE on social media: Facebook | Chirping | Instagram | Youtube