AUSTIN (KXAN) — Democratic members of the Texas Senate called for approval of four measures that they said are needed after the deadly school shooting in Uvalde.
The lawmakers from the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus held a news conference Monday afternoon to press for raising the age to purchase certain guns to 21, requiring background checks, a 72-hour waiting period for specific weapons and red flag laws. However, they said a special legislative session is needed to address these proposals, but Gov. Greg Abbott has not supported bringing them back for that purpose.
“These proposed solutions aren’t new. We’ve been pleading for years for commonsense gun laws,” Texas Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, said. “We have the power to help protect our constituents from suffering more losses.”
“None of us are looking to prevent stable, law-abiding adults from possessing guns. That is a right, and we stand by it,” Texas Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, said. “But it is also a right for us to pursue safety for every Texan.”
Democrats previously called on Abbott to convene a special legislative session in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting. However, Abbott requested the formation of special legislative committees instead to develop recommendations on “school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.”
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan created an investigative committee to look into the circumstances surrounding the shooting. District leaders allowed some of the committee members Friday to go inside Robb Elementary School. Some of them remained in Uvalde on Monday to interview several law enforcement officers about the response as part of their probe.
Renae Eze, the governor’s press secretary, released a lengthy statement about the Democrats’ demands.
“The investigations being conducted by the Texas Rangers and the FBI are ongoing, and we look forward to the full results being shared with the victims’ families and the public, who deserve the full truth of what happened that tragic day. The Governor has requested the Texas legislature work together on legislative recommendations to make schools safer, including considering school safety, mental health, firearm safety, police training, social media, and more, and the special legislative committees have already begun meeting and deliberating proposed solutions. These Senate Democrats should work with their colleagues, rather than holding press conferences to promote themselves.
“Governor Abbott has taken immediate action to address all aspects of the heinous crime committed in Uvalde, including issuing six directives to make schools safer. As Governor Abbott has said from day one, all options remain on the table as he continues working with state and local leaders to prevent future tragedies and deploy all available resources to support the Uvalde community as they heal. More announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks to protect Texas communities as the legislature deliberates proposed solutions.”
Ahead of the Democrats’ news conference, KXAN reached out Monday to the Republican Party of Texas for comment. A party spokesperson directed us to an interview Chairman Matt Rinaldi gave to WFAA in Dallas this weekend, where he said he opposed measures like red flag laws.
“We don’t support any new restrictions of gun laws, because we don’t think it will make Texans safer,” Rinaldi said during the interview. “People want to be safe. People don’t want tragedies like Uvalde to happen. We need to make sure any legislation we pass actually accomplishes that task.”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde, said Monday he went to seven girls’ funerals after the shooting, including to one whose casket had to remain closed.
“We need to do something here, and we can do some commonsense solutions,” Gutierrez said. “Simply doing nothing is about as evil as it comes, right?”