Where does gun legislation go from here? Texas lawmakers react

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Where does gun legislation go from here? Texas Lawmakers react.
Texas lawmakers discuss gun reform and mental health for the 2023 legislative session after the state sees yet another deadly mass shooting.

It is fair to say that no single law would end mass shootings or gun violence, and lowering the age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from 21 to 18 likely would not have prevented the deadly mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas this weekend. But there is a push to do more in Austin than what the Republican-controlled House and Senate have done so far.

Nearly five years ago, the mass shooting at Santa Fe killed 10 people and injured 13.

Scot Rice's wife, Flo, was among the wounded. In the shooting's aftermath, Gov. Greg Abbott invited the Rices to his 2019 inauguration. They supported his efforts. But on Monday, Scot Rice, who says he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, does not think he has done enough.

SEE ALSO: Judge Jeth Jones, who was accused of conflict of interest, taken off of Santa Fe HS shooting case

"It's like every day there's another mass shooting, and to have two back to back in Texas, it just really sucks the life out of you," Rice said. "They just put out words on paper to make it look like they were doing something, and then when Uvalde happened, nothing has actually changed since then either."

Abbott spoke briefly about the shooting in Allen, Texas, Monday morning at a press conference focused on Texas' southern border with Mexico.

"I believe in the coming days, the public will be much better informed about why and how this happened," Abbott said. "And that will inform us as Texas leaders about the next steps to take to try and prevent crimes like this from taking place in the future."

ABC13 reached out to Abbott's office and that of Republicans Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, and Sen. Ted Cruz. None granted an interview or offered a statement. Cruz's office referred Eyewitness News to his tweet from Saturday, which offered prayers for the Allen, Texas, and broader Collin County community.

The only Republican who agreed to an interview was State Rep. Jacey Jetton.

"This does bring it back to the forefront of this legislative body to determine what more can we do," Jetton said. "I can tell you, as a member of the conference committee for HB 1, the budget (has) billions more being put into mental health."

SEE ALSO: After Dallas-area mall shooting, Texas Republican leaders downplay guns and focus on mental health

And while the Texas House Community Safety Select Committee did vote in favor of a bill that would raise the age to buy certain semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21, Democrat Jarvis Johnson, who is on that committee, is not optimistic.

"I think too many people are digging in," Johnson said. "Wanting to defend guns versus defending people. I wish I could be more optimistic. I don't think it's going to happen. I think you see by the five no votes that we have on the committee, that is the temperature of the rest of the House and the Senate. I think everybody wants to continue to talk about mental health. Everybody wants to talk about everything but the actual weapon."

But Robin Breed, who was among those demonstrating at the Capitol on Monday with the gun reform advocacy group Moms Demand Action, told ABC13 she is hopeful that incremental change is coming.

"I hope the people across Texas are paying attention," Breed said. "It's coming. It's not ending anytime soon. We have to do something. Our lawmakers have to do something."

Five years later, that's the same hope of Scot Rice and his wife.

"You know how hard it is in Austin to get the meter to move," he said.

There are three weeks left in this year's Texas legislative session, and while a special session is possible, Abbott has not made gun reform one of his legislative priorities.

SEE MORE: In surprise move, Texas House panel OKs bill raising age to buy semi-automatic rifles

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