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Despite lack of gun safety legislation, state senator says progress was made during session

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez said he is also contemplating a run for U.S. Senate.

AUSTIN, Texas — State Sen. Roland Gutierrez had high hopes heading into the 88th Texas Legislature.

The most visible and vocal statewide lawmaker in the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre, the Democrat made gun safety legislation his only issue.

And we asked him directly on Inside Texas Politics what lawmakers have done this session to make classrooms safer for our kids.

“Very little. The money is simply not enough money. We would need $10 billion to have a significant impact. And the 8,000 campuses that we have, there is not enough money out there. Audits. And studies. Come on. That’s not really it. That’s not really it,” he said during a sometimes emotional interview.

Gutierrez said he knew going into the session what he was up against with leadership and his Republican colleagues.

Despite disappointment as the legislature enters its final hours, Gutierrez said there was progress, at least in the Texas House.

“For the first time, a bill was heard on one of these issues, which is to raise the age limit to access an AR-15. There had never been in my time here, since 2008, a positive gun safety bill heard in a committee room,” the Democrat told us on Inside Texas Politics.

HB 2744 even got two Republican votes to advance it to the full chamber.

Gutierrez says this has been an emotional session for him.

And he continues to regularly visit the Uvalde community, which sits inside his district.

The Democrat says he doesn’t know how many children have to die before gun violence reaches a tipping point for Republican lawmakers.

“As long as these types of guns are out there, it’ll continue to happen,” he said. “But we have to do meaningful things to make it happen less. Just happen less.”

The senator has frequently been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

He says right now he’s focused on the remaining days of the session.

And after that, he’ll have a long conversation with his wife and make a decision over the summer.

But the Democrat says the images he’s seen, the horrors he’s witnessed and the people he’s talked to have all changed him as a person and as a lawmaker.

“This, to me, is the most important issue that’s facing our country. I’ll figure out the politics and what’s going forward in my life down the road,” said Gutierrez. “But I’m going to keep talking about this because this is bigger than inflation. It’s bigger than anything. If you don’t have your child, nothing matters.”

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