Austin – House Bill 2744 was nearly killed by inaction in the Texas House Public Safety Committee, but a last-minute save may not be enough to put it to a vote in the state House and full Senate.
Monday was the last day before the deadline and it was the last committee meeting where emotional desperate efforts were made that paid off for HB 2744.
Families of those who have lost loved ones to gun violence have expressed their desire to see the “Raise the Age” gun bill move from committee to the Texas House floor for possible debate.
The bill would raise the age limit for purchasing some semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. This latest push came after it was revealed that Robb’s elementary school shooter almost a year ago first bought a gun on the day he turned 18. .
The Uvalde families react to the news
But as lucky as Uvalde’s victims’ family members are to be on the main floor of the House, they now only have a three-week window to get through the State House and the Senate, and even then, Gov. Greg Abbott is unlikely to sign the bill.
Seconds after the committee voted to advance the “Raise the Age” bill, social media was lit up with messages to heaven for the children who died to mark this small but important moment in the Texas Legislature.
The community of mourners of mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles for the 19 children who died in Uvalda were delighted to see the bill move out of committee.
Kimberly Garcia, the mother of Ameri Garza – the victim of the Robb Elementary School shooting – posted a photo of her child with the caption: “You did it. I will NEVER let anyone forget you. You’re changing the world, Ameri.”
This joy comes after what amounted to public condemnation of leaders who failed to deliver on promises made a year ago to make schools safer for children.
Families of multiple mass shootings and activists were featured at a press conference at the Texas Capitol on Monday.
Laura Garza, Ameri Jo Garza’s aunt, said in front of the cameras with tears in her eyes: “I can’t imagine what it’s like to have so much power. And yet we live in the last day, still hoping that you will do the right thing. Do what’s right and age up.”
Another victim’s caregiver, Nikki Cross, spoke on behalf of her child Ouzia Garcia, asking, “What will you do for the rest of Texas? What will you do for the next community? Are you hoping we’ll just leave? Because if so, then you are deeply mistaken. We’ll be back.”
These harsh denunciations by lawmakers appeared to have served their purpose when, hours later, in a surprise move, a House committee that had not acted since April 18 on the Uwalde families’ push for gun reform received at least one wish.
State Senator Roland Gutierrez issued the following statement in response:
“Nothing can bring back lost lives, but it will help save lives in the future. We need this bill to be passed.”
But Texas Capitol watchers say don’t hold your breath for more than what happened on Monday. Aside from fears of a backlash in the primaries, they believe lawmakers can’t get past Abbott’s table on any gun control legislation.
Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, lamented that the Uvalde families in particular have been treated rudely in the legislative process and have nothing to show but continue talking. He believes that this and other bills are doomed.
Braddock said, “It’s fair to say it absolutely won’t happen before the end of this legislative session.”
And he’s probably right, because right now, more than 100 gun bills spawned by the recent epidemic of mass shootings in Texas are still pending in a committee that only has until Monday’s close of business to act.
The deadline for the House of Representatives to distribute its latest daily calendar of bills and joint resolutions is 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9.
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