The unexpected elation felt this week by gun control advocates and families of Uvalde shooting victims dissolved to despair Tuesday, when a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles lost its newfound momentum and was left off the Texas House’s agenda ahead of a key deadline.
Barring an unexpected development, the delay likely ends the bill’s chances of becoming law.
The proposal has long faced stiff odds in a state that has regularly loosened gun restrictions in recent years. But on Monday, in the aftermath of the deadly shooting in an Allen shopping mall, a House committee unexpectedly advanced the legislation in an 8-5 vote that included two Republicans supporting it.
That left little time for the bill to be added to the House’s calendar, however. The final day the House can pass bills is Thursday, and the chamber’s agenda must be approved 36 hours ahead of when they convene. That creates a de facto deadline of around 10 p.m. Tuesday for the measure to be placed on the calendar.
When that hour arrived Tuesday night, House Bill 2744 remained off the list.
The measure’s supporters, particularly parents of children who died at Robb Elementary in Uvalde who have been advocating for it all session, pushed until the end. Minutes before 10 p.m., a small group stood outside the House chamber holding signs and chanting and calling for the bill to be heard on the House floor. Even then, they could be heard faintly from the back of the chamber.
“2-7-4-4,” they yelled. “Put this bill on the floor.”
There were less than a dozen of them, but they could be heard inside the House chamber — their chants carrying loudly enough that Capitol staffers closed the doors to the second-floor viewing gallery.
Perhaps the loudest was Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia was shot to death by an AR-15 in one of Robb’s classrooms. When the clock passed 10 p.m., a few Democrats left the chamber and hugged him. Soon after, witnesses in the Capitol said, a Department of Public Safety trooper approached with a decibel monitor, informed him he was being too loud and escorted him out of the building. Cross continued chanting the bill’s number as he left.
“This is just another fucking attempt to slow and stop us,” Cross said on Twitter. “2744 may have died tonight, but we will never stop!
“Texas fucked with the wrong parents!”
\Another parent, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio in the shooting, vowed to travel to the districts of House Speaker Dade Phelan, Calendars Committee Chair Dustin Burrows and Select Committee on Community Safety Chair Ryan Guillen and “share Lexi’s story, and the disrespect shown to Uvalde families.”
“This isn’t over,” she said. “We will regroup, re-strategize and come back stronger.”
As it became clear Tuesday afternoon that the bill was again in danger, proponents voiced their frustration. Some left signs urging its passage outside the Calendars Committee’s meeting room. Others protested outside the office of Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, the chair of the committee that advanced the bill Monday.
Guillen could not be immediately reached for comment about whether the committee report had been sent to the calendars committee or whether it would be before the deadline.
“I’m sickened that HB 2744 will not be brought to a full House vote,” said Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Houston Democrat who voted to advance the bill Monday as a member of the select House committee. “For once, the legislature seemed to listen to its constituents & do the right thing after getting this bill out of committee.”
Lawmakers could use other approaches to revive the proposal. But advocates are realistic that the measure will most likely ultimately fail. Even if it were to pass the House — a tall request — it would still need to advance through a Senate that’s perhaps even more skeptical of the idea.
See here for the background. This was as unsurprising as a genital-obsessed youth pastor turning out to be a sex predator, just to pick an analogy at random. I have nothing but love and empathy for the Uvalde parents, who have done everything they can to get the gun-humping Republicans to Do Something about all the murdered children our state keeps producing, but that’s too tall a task for anyone. The only thing we can do is vote them out. We did get a couple of the committee members to support this incremental step forward, so there has to be some room for persuasion. Until such time as we can grow enough Democrats to win on sheer numbers, we’re going to have to persuade some Republican voters to switch sides in at least some races because of the gun issue – or the abortion issue, or the marijuana issue, or the gambling issue, whatever may work for them – if we ever want to change how things are done here. The next chance to do that is next year. Same story, next election. The Chron and the Current have more.