AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Families of victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting gathered again at the Texas Capitol Tuesday as their state senator unveiled a new set of legislation aimed at preventing gun violence.
Uvalde’s state senator Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) announced five new bills in the last of a weekly series of press conferences that have gathered Uvalde families at the Capitol. Gutierrez and state senator Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) have filed a total of 21 bills addressing gun violence, recalling the 21 killed in the mass school shooting in Uvalde on May 24.
“Death by gunshot is now the leading cause of death among Texas children,” Senator Sarah Eckhardt added. “Although we have not seen much movement from our Republican colleagues, we will persist.”
Banning some bullets
SB 1737 would ban fragmenting and expanding bullets.
“When it comes to human beings, at the minute of impact of that bullet on your body, that bullet expands on itself. It begins to tear up your insides like you can’t imagine,” Senator Gutierrez said.
Closing the “gun show loophole”
SB 1736 would require gun show vendors to conduct background checks before selling firearms. Vendors must also maintain a record of gun sales. Buyers with a license to carry a firearm would be exempt from this requirement.
Gun show organizers must also notify local law enforcement one month in advance.
“None of those things are required,” Gutierrez said. “Go to a gun show. I don’t mean to profile here, but you’ll see plenty of people with teardrops, plenty of people buying AR-15s for cash.”
Gutierrez worried gun shows enable criminals to buy firearms without identification or documentation of sale.
“Nevermind that’s not what happened in Uvalde,” Gutierrez said, referring to the shooter’s legal purchase of a rifle and ammunition at a gun store.
Gun storage requirements
SB 1740 would create a misdemeanor offense for leaving unsecured firearms or ammunition in a car or boat. Gun owners would be required to store any firearm left in their vehicle in a hidden, locked container.
Law enforcement suspensions
SB 1738 would place any officer involved in the shooting of a child on immediate administrative leave, regardless of whether they fired or were responding to the shooting. The bill directs an independent investigation to determine whether the use of force was justified or whether the officer “failed to intervene to prevent the death of a child.”
Brett Cross, who lost his 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia in the Robb Elementary school shooting, specifically requested this bill after law enforcement waited 77 minutes to confront the shooter.
“41 weeks ago we were in the civics center hoping to hear that our children were still alive,” Cross said. “The one thing that has been shown over and over that we have had to fight for is the suspension of officers. All we asked was for officers to be suspended pending the investigation of a shooting. We shouldn’t have DPS investigating DPS or the sheriff investigating the sheriff, because you’re not going to find any culpability if you are investigating yourself.”
Sentencing school shooters
SB 1739 requires a sentence of life in prison without parole for anyone convicted of murdering students or school employees.
All of these bills were filed on March 7 and do not yet have coauthors. Addressing a lack of Republican support, Senator Gutierrez invited Republican senators to take on the bills themselves.
“I wish everyday that my colleagues would go file these bills, take them up as their own,” Gutierrez said. “There’s no pride of authorship here. It’s the right thing to do, but we’re in a place right now where there’s not a whole lot of right happening in this building. Not a whole lot of good things happening in this building.”