A rare push in the Texas Capitol for tougher gun law died down on Wednesday after Republicans blocked a bill that would raise the purchase age for AR-style rifles, virtually guaranteeing that The GOP-controlled Legislature will not restrict access to guns in any way after more mass shootings.
The legislation – still at best in the long term – now has little chance of returning after coming within reach of a full vote in the State House with the help of two Republicans, which sent the powerful arms lobby to Texas fire rushing into action.
Texas’ unusual progress on a proposed gun restriction rocked the Capitol on Monday, two days after a gunman near Dallas opened fire on an outdoor mall with an AR-style rifle, killing eight people.
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But late Tuesday night, House Republicans let a deadline pass that prevents the bill from going any further.
“Uvalde families didn’t fail. Texas politicians did,” tweeted Kimberly Mata Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was among 19 children and two teachers killed by a man. armed at Robb Elementary School nearly a year ago in Uvalde, Texas. .
The deadline to move the bill to a full House vote back and forth as protesters chanted outside the chamber, including Brett Cross, who raised his 10-year-old nephew Uziyah Garcia in Uvalde before that the fourth year student is killed in the shooting. . Video on social media showed four soldiers from the Texas Department of Public Safety escorting Cross out of the Capitol during the protest.
Cross said soldiers removed him from the Capitol for being too loud. DPS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident on Wednesday. State Representative James Talarico, a Democrat, said he was concerned about the withdrawal and planned to request more information.
The bill’s failure was not unexpected: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has long rejected calls for tougher gun laws after mass shootings in Texas. He did it again this week after another shooting Saturday in Allen, Texas.
Two Republicans had unexpectedly helped advance legislation that would raise the purchase age for semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21. For gun control advocates in Texas, this was nothing short of a milestone.
But that was followed by gun rights groups – who are rarely forced to play defense in the Texas Capitol – mobilizing pushback in a bid to quickly eliminate even a glimpse of the momentum for guns. supporters of gun control.
Texas Gun Rights, one of the more outspoken groups, was joined by Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people during a protest in Wisconsin in 2020 and was later acquitted of murder.
“It’s a perfect example of a knee-jerk ‘just do something’ mentality,” said Chris McNutt, president of Texas Gun Rights.
He pointed out how nearly any attempt to tighten gun laws in Texas is out of place in the state’s GOP-controlled legislature, which in recent years has eased access to guns at the aftermath of more mass shootings and shows no appetite to turn the tide. This includes Abbott, who after the Allen shooting called mental health the root of the problem.
One of the Republicans who voted to push the bill forward was state Rep. Sam Harless, who represents a solidly GOP-leaning suburb near Houston. He said he had received no reaction from his colleagues in the House regarding his decision.
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“I just voted my heart out and my voters probably aren’t the armed groups,” Harless said.
Another Republican, State Rep. Justin Holland, also joined Democrats on the House Select Committee on Community Safety in voting 8-5 to advance the measure that would raise the age to purchase from some semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21.
In a statement defending his vote, Holland said, “I don’t believe in gun control.” He noted that he had previously voted in favor of Texas scrapping training and background checks for carrying a handgun. He also said he had three consecutive ‘A’ grades from the National Rifle Association – but acknowledged he now had ‘no idea’ if they would rate him so highly in the future.
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He said testimony given to the committee convinced him that a law raising the age of purchase could be a “significant obstacle” to a young person acquiring certain semi-automatic weapons and causing harm.