'Raise the age' gun measure fails to move forward after passing out of House committee
AUSTIN, Texas - Uvalde families and gun control advocates cheered when House Bill 2744 passed out of committee on Monday, May 8. It was one step closer to a House floor vote.
"I watched the families come out of the committee after it was passed, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house," said Katie Hansen, with Moms Demand Action in an interview on Monday. "It means everything to them."
Those hopes were dashed after a Tuesday night deadline passed and the House Calendars Committee opted not to advance it to the full chamber.
"I think it's criminally negligent of the Texas legislature, the governor, (House Calendars Committee Chair) Dustin Burrows and the Republican Party to prevent a vote on this legislation," said Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party. "The status quo is killing Texans."
Two Republican members of the House Select Committee on Community Safety, which was formed this session to examine gun-related legislation, did vote in favor of the bill.
"I am not naive enough to think that laws alone will prevent the type of senseless violence that occurs all too frequently in our state. But after listening to many hours of testimony over this session, I became convinced that this small change to the law might serve as a significant roadblock to a young person (not old enough to buy tobacco or alcohol) acquiring a specific type of semi-automatic rifle intent upon using it in a destructive and illegal manner," said Rep. Holland in a statement. "I think that increasing the age requirement for purchase lessens the possibility that the weapon is misused while not undermining our fundamental right to keep and bear arms."
The president of Texas Gun Rights, which promised to sue if the bill passed, said in a statement, "18-year-olds can serve in the military, vote for leaders of our country, get married, and agree to life-altering contracts. But Republicans like Justin Holland and Sam Harless have signed on to Democrat efforts to disarm them."
This comes as the legislative clock ticks with just a little over a couple of weeks until the session ends.
- Texas House Committee passes bill to raise purchase age for certain assault-style rifles
- Families of Uvalde school shooting victims speak out after House committee advances HB 2744
"Unlike the federal government, Texas meets once every two years for 140 days," said Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University. "And for that reason, issue space is very limited, and we're trying to pass as much legislation as New York does, and they meet all year, all the time."
Smith noted the time constraint as a factor in the Calendar Committee’s decision, coupled with lawmakers foreseeing no chance of the bill passing, due to a lack of support in the House majority, Senate and from the governor.
"It is a real victory, though, for gun control supporters that they were able to get a bill in Texas out of the committee," said Smith. "But when you look at the constraints and the way the legislature works, they face the realities of the Republicans controlling the House, Senate and governorship. And also, they ran simply out of time."
The last day of the 88th legislative session is May 29.