This week, lawmakers in Texas advanced gun control legislation in the wake of the deadly mall shooting in Allen on Saturday, which claimed eight lives.
On Monday, the State House committee voted in favor of a bill that would raise the legal age for purchasing modern sporting rifles to 21 and prohibit the sale of firearms to intoxicated individuals and those with protective orders against them.
Two Republicans joined all the Democrats on the committee to pass the bill in an 8-5 vote.
Despite Monday’s unexpected result, the bill still faces significant challenges and time constraints for it to be passed.
Democrats may not have enough support to pass the bill in the state House, and even if it passes, the Republican-dominated state Senate and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has expressed opposition to the gun legislation, still need to approve it.
In a “Fox News Sunday” appearance, Gov. Abbott said his administration is focusing on addressing “the anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.”
“I think that the state in which the largest number of victims have occurred this year is in California where they have very tough gun laws were 11 people died. And so, one thing that we can observe very easily and that is there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence that’s taking place in America,” said Abbott.
“We know that Texas had been lagging in mental health for years, and that’s why over the past three sessions, we’ve added almost $25 billion to address mental health,” he continued. “We’re in the waning days of a session right now where we will be adding even more funding, about $3 billion to address mental health needs in the state of Texas, especially in rural Texas and especially for children in schools.”
The perpetrator of the mall shooting was in his 30s. Even if the law was on the books it would not have prevented him from purchasing an AR-style rifle.
It’s also worth pointing out that handguns, not long guns, are used in the majority of mass public shootings, according to the National Institute of Justice (see table below).
Table 1: Type of Weapon Used (1966-2019, 172 Public Mass Shootings)
|Type of Weapon||Percentage of Usage||Total Shootings Studied||Years Covered||Source|
Note that the percentages in the table do not add up to 100% because some mass shooters might have used multiple types of firearms during an incident.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t believe age restrictions for black rifle purchases will pass Constitutional muster.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) says he supports lowering the minimum age to buy a rifle from 21 to 18:— The Recount (@therecount) May 3, 2023
“Look, I was in Iraq. I was there with 18-year-old Marines … Then, they come back after doing that, and … they’re told you cannot exercise your 2nd Amendment rights here?” pic.twitter.com/RO8omBC68K
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