AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Facing renewed pressure on gun violence in Texas after two more mass shootings, Republicans on Monday unexpectedly approved a bill that would raise the purchase age for semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 to advance from the House committee — however. although the proposal has almost no chance of becoming law.
The surprising move revealed slowing momentum for gun control advocates after last weekend’s shooting at an outdoor mall near Dallas, but at the same time underscored how Texas Republicans is so opposed to gun restrictions that even clearing a small hurdle in the legislature causes supporters to celebrate.
Two Republicans joined Democrats in an 8-5 vote in the House Select Committee on Community Safety to advance the bill, which was previously opposed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. It’s unclear when or if the proposal will get a full vote in the Texas House with just weeks left to pass any new laws.
“It has no support in the Legislature,” said Republican state Rep. Ryan Guillen, who chaired the committee and voted against the measure.
Abbott is reluctant to revisit gun restrictions after two mass shootings within a week. The first happened in Cleveland, northeast of Houston, where a man killed five of his neighbors with an AR-style rifle after they confronted him about a shooting in his yard.
The bill that advanced Monday had been languishing for weeks before Saturday’s shooting that left eight people dead at Allen Premium Outlets, a sprawling outdoor shopping center.
Before the vote, protesters chanted “Do Something!” echoed through the halls of the Capitol in the nation’s largest red state. Protesters eventually camped outside the Chamber and chanted at lawmakers as they entered.
They include some relatives of the victims of the mass shooting a year ago at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Some of them stood holding photos of their murdered children, and others cried after the vote.
One of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill is Rep. Sam Harless of the state, who through his office declined to be interviewed. “He did not intend to take advantage of the media’s coverage of the misery and suffering of those who lost loved ones in these tragedies for simply voting his heart, his conscience, and his district,” he said. Ron Hickman, Harless’ chief of staff, in an email.
The push to raise the purchase age has been led for months in the Capitol by relatives of the 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalde when an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-style rifle opened fire on fourth grade. classroom.
Mack Segovia, whose stepdaughter, Eliahna, was killed at Robb Elementary, attended Monday’s rally wearing a shirt with a photo of a girl in a softball uniform.
“It happened again. And it happens again and again,” Segovia said. “It happened this weekend in a mall. You’re not safe anywhere. … It’s going to strike again, we just don’t know where.”
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