AUSTIN (KXAN) — Democratic members of the Texas House joined the calls for the governor to hold a special legislative session to consider gun reforms after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde.
The House Democratic Caucus sent a letter Thursday signed by 58 lawmakers to Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to call them back to the State Capitol. They suggested that he include several reforms on that agenda. Those included raising the age to purchase guns like the AR-15; enacting extreme risk protective orders through Red Flag laws; requiring background checks on gun purchases; and mandating the reporting of stolen guns to law enforcement.
“People of Texas want action. They want it now,” Texas Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, said. “Gov. Abbott is the only person who has the power to deliver on immediate action, and that’s why we’re here today.”
“This is what the people of Uvalde and the people of Texas are demanding, without a shadow of a doubt, that something needs to be done,” Texas Rep. Tracy King, D-Uvalde, said, “to honor the legacy and the memory of those children and those teachers that were killed in this tragedy; that were killed in El Paso; that were killed in Santa Fe and were killed in each and every one of these shootings that we’ve had in the state of Texas.”
Lawmakers said they compiled this list of suggested policies after hearing from voters during a series of town hall meetings they held across Texas.
Their news conference came after the first two days of public hearings in the Texas Senate on school security, gun safety and mental health in the wake of the Uvalde elementary school shooting.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw laid out an extensive timeline of what happened during the May 24 Robb Elementary School shooting where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of Texas mayors along with the Texas Senate Democrats called for the governor to bring lawmakers back for a special legislative session to consider gun reforms and other measures to prevent another tragedy like Uvalde. However, Abbott has asked legislative committees to look into policy recommendations for the session next year. His office suggested he’d lay out other actions in the coming days and weeks, but did not specify if that would include calling a special legislative session.
House Democrats said they hope the politics of an election year would not influence what Abbott decides to do about a potential special session. They pointed to polling released recently by Quinnipiac University, which showed an overwhelming majority of Texas voters support implementing background checks on gun purchases and raising the age to buy guns to 21 years old nationwide.