Stalled gun bill advances in Texas after new mass shootings

May 8, 2023, 11:54 AM | Updated: 3:28 pm

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Facing new pressure over gun violence in Texas after two more mass shootings, Republicans on Monday unexpectedly allowed a bill that would raise the purchase age for semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 to advance out of a House committee — even though the proposal has almost no chance of becoming law.

The surprise move revealed faint momentum for gun control advocates after a weekend mass shooting at an outdoor mall near Dallas, but at the same time underscored how Texas Republicans are so resistant to gun restrictions that even clearing a small legislative hurdle caused supporters to celebrate.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in an 8-5 vote on the House Select Committee on Community Safety to advance the bill, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has previously spoken against. It is unclear when or if the proposal would get a full vote in the Texas House with just a few weeks left to pass any new laws.

“It doesn’t have the support of the Legislature,” said Republican state Rep. Ryan Guillen, who chairs the committee and voted against the measure.

Abbott has shown no appetite for revisiting gun restrictions after two mass shootings in the span of a week. The first took place in Cleveland, northeast of Houston, where a man killed five of his neighbors with an AR-style rifle after they confronted him about shooting rounds in his yard.

The bill that advanced Monday had languished for weeks prior to Saturday’s shooting that left eight people dead at Allen Premium Outlets, a sprawling outdoor shopping center.

Before the vote, protesters’ chants of “Do Something!” echoed through the hallways of the Capitol in the country’s largest red state. Protesters eventually camped outside the House chamber and chanted at lawmakers as they entered.

They included several relatives of victims of a mass shooting a year ago at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Some of them stood holding photos of their slain children, and some wept following the vote.

One of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bill was state Rep. Sam Harless, who through his office declined to be interviewed. “It is not his intention to capitalize with media coverage on the misery and suffering of those who have lost loved ones in these tragedies for simply voting his heart, his conscience, and his district,” Ron Hickman, Harless’ chief of staff, said in an email.

The push to raise the purchasing age has been led for months in the Capitol by relatives of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed in Uvalde when an 18-year-old gunman with an AR-style rifle opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom.

Mack Segovia, whose stepdaughter, Eliahna, was killed at Robb Elementary, attended Monday’s rally wearing a shirt with a photo of the girl in her softball uniform.

“It happened again. And it’s going to happen again and 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.”

National News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump reacts after speaking at a campaign...

Associated Press

Trump expected to turn his full focus on Harris at first rally since Biden’s exit from 2024 race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Donald Trump is holding his first public campaign rally since President Joe Biden dropped out of a 2024 matchup that both major parties had spent months preparing for, leaving the former president to direct his ire toward his likely new opponent, Vice President Kamala Harris. Trump is expected to turn his […]

1 hour ago

A runner and their pacer run as the sun rises behind them on California Route 190 during the Badwat...

Associated Press

Runners set off on the annual Death Valley ultramarathon billed as the world’s toughest foot race

DEATH VALLEY NATOINAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — During a rainstorm that partially obscured the light of a a nearly full moon, 97 runners pushed off in desolate Death Valley with the launch of a 48-hour annual ultramarathon billed as the world’s toughest foot race — the Badwater 135. After starting late Monday night, the men […]

1 hour ago

FILE - FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee o...

Associated Press

FBI chief to face questions over Trump assassination attempt as he returns to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Christopher Wray is set to testify Wednesday about the bureau’s investigation into the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, with lawmakers at a congressional hearing likely to press him for fresh details about the gunman’s motive and background. The hearing before the House Judiciary Committee will represent Wray’s most […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Ju...

Associated Press

Biden will make a case for his legacy – and for Harris to continue it – in his Oval Office address

WASHINGTON (AP) — Even though President Joe Biden won’t be on the ballot this November, voters still will be weighing his legacy. As Vice President Kamala Harris moves to take his place as the Democratic standard-bearer, Biden’s accomplishments remain very much at risk should Republican Donald Trump prevail. How Biden’s single term — and his […]

2 hours ago

Former U.S. Army medical technician Louis M. Gigliotti tours the Alaska Veterans Museum following h...

Associated Press

An Alaska veteran is finally getting his benefits — 78 years after the 103-year-old was discharged

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 103-year-old World War II veteran who’s been paying his medical bills out-of-pocket is finally getting his veterans benefits from the U.S. government after 78 years. Louis Gigliotti’s caretaker says the former U.S. Army medical technician has a card from the Veteran Administration but he never realized he could use his […]

2 hours ago

Vice President Kamala Harris campaigns for President as the presumptive Democratic candidate during...

Associated Press

Democrats hope Harris’ bluntness on abortion will translate to 2024 wins in Congress, White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden might not often use the word “abortion” when he talks about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but Vice President Kamala Harris sure does. She’s also toured a Planned Parenthood clinic where the procedure is performed, and routinely links the fall of Roe to the larger issue of rising […]

2 hours ago

Stalled gun bill advances in Texas after new mass shootings