In Surprise Move, Texas Legislators Advance Assault Weapons Legislation

Texas state lawmakers on Monday moved forward with a gun control bill in a surprise move that came just hours after families of mass shooting victims had begged them to take action in the wake of the rampage Saturday at a mall in Allen that left eight dead.

State House members passed out of committee on Monday to raise the legal age to purchase an assault-style weapon to 21, as well as prevent handgun sales to persons who are intoxicated or have a protection order against them.

In an 8-5 vote, two Republicans joined all Democrats on the committee to endorse the bill. Families from Uvalde, who had fought hard for the law, erupted in applause following the vote.

The legislation could not be pushed out of committee for a floor vote before the legislative session ended on May 29.

Families from Uvalde and Sutherland Springs — the sites of a devastating church shooting in 2017 — begged senators to bring the proposal to the floor before the vote on Monday.

Nikki Cross, whose child Uziyah died in Uvalde, said she has come to the Legislature almost every Tuesday and Thursday since the session began in January. She directly addressed Republican state Rep. Ryan Guillen, who is the chair of the select committee on community safety.

“I don’t come here and ask you to bring my child back,” Cross said. “So, one small and very simple act — can we just raise the age limit to purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21?”

Texas Legislators Advance Assault Weapons Legislation

Even after Monday’s surprising move, the bill has an uphill battle, and time is running out for any legislation to be passed.

Democrats likely lack the support to pass the bill on the state House floor, and even if it were to pass, it would still have to get through the Republican-led state Senate and be signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated he opposes the gun legislation.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott said, “We are working to address the anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde and who organized the press conference on Monday, has submitted many pieces of legislation in the state Senate, but none have been voted on.

It is not clear whether the proposed measures, had they been in effect, would have had any impact on the gunman in Allen, since authorities say he was in his 30s. More details about his background are not publicly available yet.

Texas has a loophole that allows law enforcement and prosecutors to withhold the public records in investigations in which there is no conviction.

While this could protect information on someone who is not convicted of a crime, it is often known as the “dead suspect loophole,” since it allows for information to be withheld if the suspect is dead, even when the suspect is ki!!ed by law enforcement or by a self-inflicted wound.

The assailant who ki!!ed 19 children and two teachers at Uvalde Elementary School purchased his weapon at the age of 18.

“This whole state has been dealing with the Uvalde tragedy for a year now and we still don’t know the fully happened in Uvalde,” Gutierrez said Monday. “What we’ve seen has come through leaks, has come through, you know, information that the journalistic world has gotten its hands on.”

A law enforcement source told CBS News on Sunday that an assault-style weapon was used in the Allen Mall shooting, and the White House said in a statement that the weapon was an AR-15.

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