Gun safety bill clears critical vote in Texas House

Background checks are required when purchasing a gun, but in Texas, there is no centralized database to review for juvenile mental health cases. 

SB 728 requires county clerks, who have that information, to send it to the Department of Public Safety, so it can be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

On Tuesday afternoon the bill was up for a critical second reading vote in the Texas House. State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), the House sponsor, explained what the Bill is and is not.

"I want to make very clear. Members, this bill does not…change any existing federal or state law regarding firearms. This simply adheres to existing federal law, and there are new requirements to report this data to NICS. This bill is not a red flag law. This bill, again, does not modify any current federal or state requirements regarding who can or cannot hold a firearm, but importantly, members. This bill will go a long way to ensuring that our state databases, our state and federal databases are linked and that the process is more efficient and effective in keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous Texans who do not need to have them," said Leach.

State Rep. Leach's district includes the town of Allen, the location of the most recent mass shooting in Texas. He mentioned the attack at the outlet mall before the Tuesday vote.

"Members, after the shooting in my district in Allen, Texas, last Saturday, conversations, of course, in this building, as they always have, have continued relating to how we protect and fiercely guard our Second Amendment rights, but also keep our community safe," said Leach.


Supporters of SB 728 acknowledged the legislation would not have stopped the gunman in Uvalde and Santa Fe school shootings from purchasing firearms, as they reportedly did not have juvenile records. In March, when the bill cleared its first major vote, state Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) noted what it meant.

"It is a big deal. It's very important because it does provide for juveniles who are, you know, that their history about their mental issues will show up when they attempt to purchase a weapon," said Huffman.

Initially there was some pushback by gun rights advocates which Leach also addressed Tuesday.

"This is a bill that has strong Second Amendment supporters and those who believe, like all of us do, that our streets and our schools and our communities need to be safer, can passionately support. With that members, I move passage," said Rep. Leach.

The bill will be back up tomorrow for its third and final reading. With final passage it will be sent to the governor, who had identified it as one of his legislative priorities when the session began.