DALLAS — Several bills that would strengthen gun laws in Texas are stalled in the legislature.
Movement on them in the final weeks of the regular session appears unlikely, even after the mass shooting at Allen Premium Outlets in Allen, Texas.
But state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde, told WFAA he believes there’s still time to act.
“What happened yesterday and what happened in Uvalde is going to happen again. It’s going to happen next week or the following week or the following week. This slaughterhouse that’s happening in our state is becoming all too common and all too normal,” Gutierrez said.
"This has got to change. Lawmakers can do something. The time is now. We have three weeks," he added.
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Gutierrez filed several bills addressing what he and other Democrats call “common sense gun safety measures,” but none of his bills received a hearing.
Some of the similar bills filed in the Texas House did receive a hearing in the select committee on community safety.
HB 2744 would raise the age to purchase an AR-15 from 18 to 21.
HB 236 would expand background checks.
HB 4472 would require the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide information about safe firearm storage to parents in Texas schools.
All of those bills appear stalled.
Committee members have not voted to send them to the full House for debate on the floor.
But Republican-backed HB 1894, which would institute a ban on extreme risk protection orders, commonly known as red flag laws, has also not left the committee.
The regular session ends May 29.
The committee has no more meetings scheduled.
In order to get legislation through, the bills need to be moved out of committee this week.
“I’m going to be screaming from the rafters. I’m going to beg, plead, do whatever I have to do to have people create commonsense gun safety solutions. We’re not trying to take anybody’s guns away,” Gutierrez said.
His top priorities are raising the age to purchase an AR-15 to 21, instituting extreme risk protection orders, closing the gun show loophole and enhancing background checks.
Gov. Greg Abbott declined an interview request from WFAA and did not speak to reporters at a vigil he attended Sunday evening at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen.
But he did grant an interview to Fox News Sunday with Shannon Bream.
Bream showed data from a recent Fox News poll showing more than 80% of respondents supported more background checks for gun purchases, enforcing existing laws for guns, raising the legal age to buy guns to 21 and requiring mental health checks.
Abbott said the answer is better mental health services.
"People want a quick solution," Abbott told Bream. "The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue."
Gutierrez called that “nonsense.”
“Yes, of course we have a mental health problem. The whole world has a mental health problem,” he said.
“We have people who are mentally ill who can access guns with impunity. Republican policies, loose gun laws, have made our community more dangerous not less dangerous,” Gutierrez said.
Abbott also told Fox News that Texas is working to pass legislation to keep guns out of criminals’ hands.
HB 4843, which would increase the penalty for felons found in possession of a firearm, has passed the House but not the Senate.