Advocates push for more gun safety as Texas legislative session comes to a close

A group of advocates is pushing for more gun safety as the legislative session draws to a close. This comes one day before the anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Ed Espinoza, Democratic analyst, and Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County GOP, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.

RELATED: Uvalde marks one year since deadly Robb Elementary mass shooting

MIKE WARREN: Ed, can this kind of gun legislation pass?

ED ESPINOZA: In Texas very difficult, especially without any kind of bipartisan support. But what Democratic support exists to raise the age from 18 to 21, the same way that we regulate free speech, that we can regulate certain types of voting, we should be able to do it to the Second Amendment if we do it to the First Amendment. But there has to be willingness on the part of Republicans to do something. And so far, after a year of going through the aftermath of this massacre, we have gotten nothing from the legislature. We have blamed doors, we have blamed immigrants, and we have blamed anything else out there. But it all comes down to the guns and the access to guns. If we want to see something change, we have to do something different. 

MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, what is the big reason that Republicans aren't going to go for changing the age to buy an air style rifle from 18 to 21? What's the prime reason they're against it?

MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah, I'll answer that one second. I mean, I just want to say two things at the beginning. I'd say it's not true to say that nothing's been done is wrong about that after you've already. The governor did it, demanded that state government, state agencies do a safety assessment of every school in Texas. And we now have seen significant bills passed that may not address gun control, which cannot pass a legislature, but that does address things like school security, does just a significant school Social Security bill passed, which has a baseline level of support for every school and a certain amount per pupil. It is true that if you made schools truly secure, you wouldn't have school shootings. And so I don't I've never understood why schools aren't as secure as airports and federal courthouses. If we wanted to make them secure, we could. There's no question Democrats want to go after gun control. They do believe that raising the age from 18 to 21 would in some ways prevent future incidents. Republicans don't believe gun control is the answer. They don't believe that restricting the constitutional rights of American citizens would it would make anyone safer. We need to go after criminals who are violating the law, who have to easy access to guns, and whose mental health issues are not being directly addressed.

MIKE WARREN: Ed, you just heard that. How do Democrats persuade Republicans to cooperate on some kind of legislation?

ED ESPINOZA: Well, it's tough because when you look at the logic that Matt just brought, it's very difficult to try to reason with that because I'm talking about gun safety across the board and Matt defaults to schools. School safety will do nothing to stop the Allen shooting. Nothing to stop the shooting in Cleveland, Texas. Sutherland Springs, Walmart. And the list goes on. What's going to happen here is that there are assault style weapons that are in the hands of people. And you can bring up the old praise. A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. But there were about 100 good guys outside of Uvalde and one bad guy with a gun, and they couldn't stop him. We have to do something to get to the bottom of this. And look, if Republicans aren't going to do it, it's because their Republican primary voters are in the special interests around the party, are holding them back. If you want to do something, if you want to stop shootings, and there will be more, I'm sorry to say, you've got to flip the legislature at this point. 

MIKE WARREN: Matt Mackowiak, we have final word before we wrap it up.

MATT MACKOWIAK: Yeah. I mean, Democrats have been running on gun control in Texas for multiple cycles. Beto O'Rourke really only had two primary issues he talked about. He talked about the grid, which could continue to strengthen, and he talked about gun control. And he lost by 11% on a statewide basis. So, you know, the Second Amendment protections and constitutional rights are rights that Texans take very seriously. We can look to a smart policy that can make a difference. You saw federal legislation that passed on a bipartisan basis after you valley. And that's why the state, I think, took a back seat to the Congress. They're addressing mental health. They're addressing school security. These are things that they can do and that we're done on a bipartisan basis.

ED ESPINOZA: Well, took a backseat. All right.

MIKE WARREN: It continues to be a profound disagreement. All right. We got to wrap it. Ed, Matt, thank you both very much.