Families of Uvalde school shooting victims ask Texas lawmakers to consider gun reforms

It's been almost a year since the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde

Some parents and relatives of the victims came to the Texas Capitol on Tuesday, April 18 hoping lawmakers would consider some kind of gun reform. 

Democratic analyst Ed Espinoza and James Dickey, president of JD Key, joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.

MIKE WARREN: Ed Espinosa, is there a middle ground for Democrats and Republicans as far as some kind of gun reform?

ED ESPINOZA: It has been hard to identify middle ground in the years leading up to now, but there seems to be at least an opening for there to be some conversation on this, which is progress, because for something to change, for something to happen here in Texas and nationwide, we must have bipartisanship. We need bipartisanship. And we know that Democrats and law enforcement agencies have wanted to see some reforms in recent years. There's been a lot of resistance from Republicans. We're seeing a willingness from Republican legislators and from groups like Open Carry Texas that want to have conversations now. There have been too many killings and too many mass shootings. Something's got to be done.

MIKE WARREN: James, what kind of compromises could be made for gun reform? And do you even think there needs to be gun reform?

JAMES DICKEY: Well, there have. There has always been a willingness and an interest and a desire on both sides to actually address the problem of school shootings. The difference has been that some folks have been jumping to their favored solution, which is their solution no matter what the actual cause of the problem is. And no matter what the actual impact would be, what has been really good to see this session, as in many other places across the country, is a real focus on taking steps that would actually address the issues. And not surprisingly, those steps there are many of them that we can get agreement on long before trying to go to completely making the entire population defenseless.

MIKE WARREN: So, Ed, I mean, list some gun reforms that you think both parties could agree on?

ED ESPINOZA: Well, at least the ones that are on the table at the Texas legislature right now, and one that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had initially expressed support for a year ago was rage, raising the age limit to age 21 for any kind of assault weapon. Now, I think he has backed away from that since then, but that's still a conversation that people are having. Remember, a lot of these school shootings, which by the way, we're not just talking about school shootings, their church shootings, their Walmart shootings are happening everywhere. But the schools in particular tend to be young people who have recently come out of those schools. In other words, they've gone through all the disaster training. They know what is what other people are going to do when they encounter them. It's a tactical advantage for the shooter. Raising the age limit could be something that stifles that. There are also gun lock programs. There are also conversations about safe storage. And then, of course, we also have the conversations about whether we should have assault rifles. That is clearly a much bigger conversation at the national level. But raising the age, maybe even making it harder to get ammunition, those, I think, are important conversations to start having right now that could make a difference.

MIKE WARREN: Okay, James, what about that? You know, raising the age, for example, do you think that's something Republicans could get on board with?

JAMES DICKEY: I think the irony here is kind of palpable. Then the same session that Democrats are losing their minds over people thinking it's not a good idea for a seven-year-old to decide which of their own body parts to cut off. That they have a problem with a 19-year-old being able to defend themselves. So the irony is pretty thick. What doesn't make any sense there is agreement on is we need to be stopping any risk to folks in not just our schools, but in more places. And as we all learn from the Nashville shooter, the Nashville shooter on purpose ignored two other potential targets and went to the target that they went to because they knew it would be a soft, undefended target. So the most important thing we do is not to take away people's defenses. 

MIKE WARREN: Okay. We got to wrap it up. Still a wide variance of opinion on this issue. Ed James, thank you both very much.