DALLAS — The May 24 mass murder at a Uvalde elementary school seems to be a call to action for Texans of all political persuasions.
Elected leaders on both sides of the aisle say change is necessary and a sense of urgency is shared.
But a clear divide is emerging over what kind of action to take.
“Blaming doors for killing 19 kids is a ridiculous excuse to try to avoid the real problem,” said State Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat from Farmers Branch.
Johnson and fellow House Democrat Rafael Anchia, a representative from Dallas, attended a forum hosted by Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD on Tuesday.
They learned about campus policies and procedures and heard parents raise serious concerns about safety.
Some teachers in the district were moved to tears as they admitted they fear for their lives and the lives of their students.
Every politician's constituents have a myriad of opinions on how to prevent another mass school shooting.
But most Democrats seem convinced something needs to be done to address the accessibility of guns.
“I have a 19-year-old son,” Johnson said. “He’s not allowed to go buy a pack of Marlboros or a Coors Light, but he can go buy an AR-15. That makes no sense to me.”
So far, Texas Republicans have united around upgrading school security.
Governor Greg Abbott has sent multiple letters to top lawmakers and the heads of several agencies inside Texas with a clear focus on enhancing safety on campuses.
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He’s called for random, unannounced spot checks on door locks. He’s ordered more active shooter training and asked the TEA to encourage more districts to arm more educators.
He’s also formed legislative committees to examine police training, mental health, and the role of social media.
“The governor has done a great job leading,” said State Rep. Matt Shaheen, (R) Plano, in an interview with WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics.
“Make no mistake this is a very urgent matter. We’re working on it. This is going to be where we find facts, come up with proposals for legislation to keep our children safer, and we’re going to take action.”
Johnson said she’s having private conversations with Republican colleagues and “there seems to be agreement” on raising the age to purchase an AR-15.
Shaheen said he would “talk about any proposals that are out there," but he does not believe a special session on guns is needed.
“After 9/11, it’s not like we banned certain types of planes,” Shaheen said. “We made our airports safer. We made our planes safer. We looked at the individuals that were flying. We had no fly lists.”