May 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Texas House panel passes "raise the age" gun bill

A man at a podium talks to a room filled with onlookers and tv cameras

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez talks about the inaction of Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican lawmakers on gun control legislation at the Capitol yesterday. Relatives of Uvalde victims stand behind him. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

A Texas House committee advanced a bill that would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy certain semi-automatic rifles.

State of play: House Bill 2744, which still faces several hurdles before becoming state law, was pushed by relatives of the victims of the Uvalde elementary school shooting. The gunman in that shooting was 18.

  • The chair of the House Select Committee on Community Safety had refused to hold a vote but changed his mind. Before the vote, gun control activists flooded the Capitol Rotunda with signs demanding that lawmakers advance the bill.

Driving the news: Republican Reps. Justin Holland of Rockwall and Sam Harless of Spring unexpectedly joined Democrats in an 8-5 vote to advance the bill to the full House by Monday's deadline.

Reality check: Even if the bill were already law, it would have done little to stop this weekend’s mass shooting because the alleged shooter was 33.

What they're saying: Dozens of Texans wrote in support of the bill before it was debated last month in the House committee.

  • "Please support this bill," wrote Kristen Gardiner of Allen. "Raising the age to buy certain firearms is the smart, responsible thing to do."

The other side: Gov. Greg Abbott has dismissed polling that shows most Texans want tighter gun restrictions. He told "Fox News Sunday" that he wants the state Legislature to focus on approving $3 billion in mental health funding.

The bottom line: The bill is now eligible for a floor debate in the House.

  • House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont, has said he doesn't believe the bill will pass, but that he won't prevent it from being debated, per the Texas Tribune.
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