AUSTIN, Texas — State legislators are busy pre-selling hundreds of bills ahead of the next legislative session. Not surprisingly, his one of the hottest topics is guns.
What you need to know
- The gun topic is getting a lot of attention just before the next legislative session
- Rep. Lina Ortega, D-El Paso Creates House Bill 129
- HB 129 raises the age limit for owning semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21.
Five years ago, gunmen opened fire on a church in Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people. Two years later, a gunman killed 23 Texans at a Walmart in El Paso. And this summer, another attacker killed her 19 children and her two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He purchased two semi-automatic rifles when he turned 18.
That is why Rep. Lina Ortega of D-El Paso drafted House Bill 129. This raises the age for owning a semi-automatic rifle from her 18 to her 21.
“It’s been happening for many years because the law is here,” said Rep. Ortega. “But with recent tragedies, I feel obligated as a state representative in this community to try and do something to prevent this kind of violence.”
Rep. Ortega, who wanted change after the El Paso shootings, said the last Congress was “rough.” She said the governor promised El Pasoan to reform after the Walmart shooting. Instead, gun control was even looser during the last legislative session. aisle About the permitless carry method.
“I’ve had conversations with state leaders who believe that Texas has such a high approval rating for gun control that at least one of the common sense laws dealing with gun reform is universal background checks. she said. “And I spoke with my colleagues. I spoke with the House leaders to see if the bill could be debated in the House. So it was very disappointing to see what was promised didn’t come true Again, I’m a Democrat and Texas is ruled by Republicans And they’re the ones who get the upper hand and make the decisions, and unless they come to an agreement on something like this, we’re going to pull out.”
Wes Virdell, Texas director of Gun Owners of America, believes adults over the age of 18 should be able to carry semi-automatic weapons.
“If you’re 18, you can vote…you can join the military,” he said. “We obviously recognize that it’s adulthood, so from the age of 18 he should be allowed to own a semi-automatic rifle until the age of 20 as well.”
Another bill from Rep. Ortega, House Bill 155, would require background checks for private firearm sales and transfers. Currently, only authorized dealers are required to perform background checks.
“People who purchase firearms from private sellers other than Craigslist or who are not federally licensed gun dealers are not subject to background checks in Texas,” the senior attorney said. said Alison Anderman, director of local policy at . For the Giffords Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence. “This means that even people who are prohibited by law from buying or possessing firearms can basically buy them easily. will be enforced to ensure that firearms are not easily available to at-risk people.”
Virdell has a different point of view.
“If you have to get permission from the government to sell firearms from one person to another, we consider that a violation of your rights,” Burdell said. You can’t actually stop people from doing bad things without it.”
House Bill 284, written by Democrat Austin Rep. Vicky Goodwin, requires you to report the sale or transfer of multiple semi-automatic weapons to the county sheriff within five consecutive business days.
“We just want the community to be safer,” she said. “And there are some laws that we can pass, very common sense laws, that help. We should be able to go to church and grocery stores and parks and not be under constant threat like that. I feel like we’ve gone one direction in giving people with guns so much allowance that they can carry them everywhere. And for those of us who really don’t want to feel like we have to be armed all the time for safety, it can be scary. ”
Goodwin said local law enforcement usually know their communities well and can dig in if they feel something isn’t right.
“Purchasing more than one weapon at a time can be a sign of gun trafficking, or that a person is amassing weapons for the purpose of mass shootings,” Anderman said. , it would be good for public safety to alert the authorities so they can investigate and make sure everything is fine.”
Neither Goodwin nor Ortega are sure they will win Republican support.
“I think it’s a little premature, but honestly, I think it would be very difficult for Republicans in the Capitol to support this kind of bill,” Rep. Ortega said. “But that doesn’t stop me from filing the bill.”
Nicole Golden, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said change is urgently needed in a statement to Spectrum News.
“While we cannot predict what the Texas Legislature will do in this session, the public consensus is in favor of stronger public safety, and the Capitol is ready to fight for us. I know there are champions out there,” Golden wrote.
Virdell believes that even if either of these bills were passed, they would have no effect anyway.
“I mean, people who want to do bad things don’t care what the laws are. So it doesn’t matter what laws we make. , you can do it with a hammer, knife, or fist.
When lawmakers passed unauthorized carrying last year, adults over the age of 21 can now carry handguns without a license or training. Virdell hopes the law will extend from her 18th to her 20th.
In the wake of the Uvalde tragedy, many Republicans are focusing on expanding mental health care resources statewide instead of passing gun laws.
“They make mental illness an issue so they don’t have to talk about guns,” Anderman said. “But the reality is that while America doesn’t have higher rates of mental illness or dangerous mental illness than other comparable countries, it does have an astronomically high rate of gun violence. It has the most privately owned firearms, and correspondingly has the most gun violence in the world outside of conflict zones, so the problem isn’t mental illness, it’s the gun.”
The legislative session begins in January.