Texas House Committee passes bill to raise purchase age for certain assault-style rifles

A Texas House committee advanced a bill Monday, May 8 to raise the age to buy an assault-style rifle from 18 to 21. The surprise move came two days after yet another deadly mass shooting, this time at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas.

"It's a step in the right direction. And it means a lot to us because we weren't sure anyone was listening," said Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in last May’s shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

Monday’s eleventh-hour vote by the House Community Safety Committee to advance HB-2744 came as a total surprise to Rubio.

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ALLEN, TEXAS - MAY 08: A sign asking people to ,'Pray for Allen, Texas,' stands at a memorial to those killed at the Allen Premium Outlets mall after the mass shooting occurred on May 8, 2023 in Allen, Texas. On May 6th, a shooter opened fire at the outlet mall, killing eight people. The gunman was then killed by an Allen Police officer responding to an unrelated call. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


"To see the right people do the right thing, it's amazing," said Rubio, who credits her daughter for inspiring the progress that’s been made. "This is in our hard work. This is Lexi. She's changed so many hearts. She's a powerful little girl."

Two Republicans on the House joined Democrats in the 8 to 5 committee vote, just hours before a legislative deadline, and two days after eight shoppers were killed at an outlet mall in Allen.

"Disgusting. You know, it just brings all the memories back all over again," said Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jackie Cazares was murdered at Robb Elementary.

Several Uvalde parents joined a protest Monday morning, alongside the group Moms Demand Action, calling for a vote on the bill.

"The majority of the school shootings are done with people between the ages of 18 and 21," said Jane Winter of Moms Demand Action.

Protesters also want to see increased background checks and red flag laws.

"We've done the same thing over and over and over again. And yet here we are," said Linda Harrison of Austin, who took part in the protest.

"This has got to end. There are things we can do to stop this," said Austin City Council Member Alison Alter, who represents District 10.

Despite broad support for raising the age to buy an assault rifle, Gov. Greg Abbott says he does not support doing so, although Abbott argues he and other state leaders have taken action to try and curb gun violence.

"There are some potential easy solutions, such as passing laws that we're working on right now to get guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals," said Abbott on FOX News Sunday.

Abbott also claims Texas has added $25 billion in mental health funding.

"The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue," said Abbott.

"You need to know, and everybody in Texas needs to know, that's all bulls***," said Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde.

Gutierrez sharply rebuked the Governor at a press conference Monday.

"It’s not mental health. It's not extremists. It's the gun that you put in the hands of an extremist," said Gutierrez.

And while HB 2744 faces an uphill battle in the full House, Kimberly Rubio says she’s hopeful.

"I was a small win for us. We know this isn't over. We're not done. But we needed this. We needed a small reminder that our story is being heard," said Rubio.

So far, Gov. Abbott has made no comment on Monday’s vote, but the group Texas Gun Rights slammed the vote, calling it a "betrayal" of lawful gun owners.

House Speaker Dade Phelan has said he will not block HB-2744 from being debated, though he says he doubts it has the votes to pass.