AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three out of four Texas voters support the idea of enacting stricter gun control measures that would raise the age requirement to purchase a weapon in the state, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
Pollsters from the Texas Politics Project asked 1,254 registered voters about several proposed laws under consideration this legislative session, including how they felt about potentially increasing the legal age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21. According to the findings, 57% said they strongly support that proposal, while 19% said they “somewhat support” it. Those numbers combined eclipse the 20% of voters who expressed opposition to the proposal (9% somewhat oppose; 11% strongly oppose).
This idea garnered attention recently because of advocacy from the families who lost loved ones in the deadly shooting last year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The gunman killed 19 students and two teachers using an AR-15. The parents of the slain children would like Texas lawmakers to approve a bill that would only allow someone who’s 21 or older to be able to buy a semi-automatic weapon, like the gun used in the Uvalde massacre. They argue a law like this would have prevented the 18-year-old gunman in this case from carrying out the state’s deadliest school shooting.
A House committee took up this bill during a hearing in April. The families of the Uvalde victims waited hours to testify in favor of it. However, committee members ultimately left the legislation pending. In this session, legislation must make it out of a committee by May 8 to have a chance at becoming law.
The proposal already faced an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled legislature, which moved to loosen gun laws in previous sessions following mass shootings. In a February interview with Nexstar, House Speaker Dade Phelan reiterated he does not believe his chamber would have the votes to support any age limit restrictions on firearms.
The results from the latest Texas Politics Project poll, which was conducted between April 13-24, showed that majorities of both Democratic and Republican voters in the state supported raising the age for gun purchases. Among the respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, 86% supported the idea, while 5% opposed it.
Meanwhile, the poll found that 64% of GOP voters said they support this gun control proposal. Opposition to it, though, among these conservative voters totaled 31%, while 5% said they had no opinion.
The pollsters also asked Texas voters about their feelings on so-called “red flag laws,” which could allow courts to require someone determined to be a risk to themselves or others to temporarily surrender guns in their possession. The total amount of support for that proposal came to 72%, according to the poll. However, 18% expressed opposition.
What’s to blame for school shootings?
Following the deadly mass shooting in Uvalde last year, the analysis showed that five of the 10 deadliest shootings in American history happened in Texas — with three of those taking place in the past five years. The Texas Politics Project asked voters in its April poll about which factors they felt are to blame for school shootings in particular.
The poll found that “insufficient restrictions on guns” garnered 24% of the voters’ responses, the most of any factor. Following that, these each captured 11% of the responses: “insufficient mental health resources for students,” “poor enforcement of existing gun laws” and “poor parenting.”
“Combined, more than one in three Texans cite insufficient gun restrictions or insufficient enforcement of existing laws as the primary cause of school shootings,” a news release sharing the April poll results explained.
Opinions on abortion access
The poll also took the pulse on how important Texas voters felt about the legislature possibly expanding legal access to abortion services. The results showed that 46% found it extremely (32%) or very important (14%) to increase abortion access in the state, while 37% found it not very or not at all important.
“Party divisions were especially sharp, though neither Republicans nor Democrats are unanimous in their views,” a Texas Politics Project news release detailed. “Among Democrats, 78% found expanding abortion access either extremely (59%) or very important (19%) for the legislature to accomplish, while only 8% found it not very or not at all important. Among Republicans, 18% thought it was either extremely or very important to expand abortion access, while 67% said this was either not very important (13%) or not important (54%).”
The Supreme Court struck down the Roe v. Wade decision last year, which eliminated the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and gave states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure. Because of that, what’s known as the Texas “trigger law” went into effect in August last year. The law virtually banned all abortions except under limited circumstances, such as a “life-threatening condition to the mother caused by the pregnancy.” Abortion will be punishable by up to life in prison and at least a $100,000 fine for each offense.