AUSTIN, Texas — Members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus on Saturday wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott calling for a special session in the Legislature to consider potential legislation in wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde.
The letter demands the special session include passage of legislation that would:
- Raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21;
- Require universal background checks for all firearm sales;
- Implement “red flag” laws to allow the temporary removal of firearms from those who are an imminent danger to themselves or others;
- Require a “cooling off” period for the purchase of a firearm; and
- Regulate civilian ownership of high capacity magazines.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state,” the letter says. “In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa. After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.
“’Thoughts and prayers’ are not enough. Lamenting the fact that ‘evil’ walks among us is not enough. Laying the blame at the feet of a broken mental health care system – that you and other state leaders continue to underfund severely – is not enough. We need evidence-based, common sense gun safety laws. Without a doubt, if at least some of the measures noted above had been passed since 2018, then many lives could have been saved.”
In the letter, the Democratic caucus says “guns should not be easier to access than health insurance, baby formula, voting, books and enlisting in the military.”
“We are not trying to take away Second Amendment rights,” they write. “Instead, we are asking for reasonable laws or restrictions that will create a safer Texas for all of us.”
It follows another plea from a Texas Democrat on Friday. While holding a press conference about state resources being provided for victims of the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, Gov. Abbott was interrupted by a Texas senator.
During the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, Texas Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-District 19) stood up and called on Abbott to call a special session of the Texas Legislature to address the shooting.
"My colleagues are asking for a special session. You’re getting a letter tomorrow. We’ve asked for gun control changes. I’m asking you now to bring us back in three weeks," Gutierrez said.
The senator apologized for interrupting the press conference, saying it wasn't meant to be a political stunt on his behalf.
"I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials. This county judge has worked his a-- off. The mayor, the city council people, I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to. And I know you feel it too. And we have to do something, man. Your own colleagues are telling me, calling me, and telling me an 18-year-old shouldn't have a gun. This is enough, call us back, man," Gutierrez said.
He proceeded to walk out of the auditorium and the press conference continued.
In response to an earlier question regarding potentially calling a special session, Abbott said "all options are on the table."
"Secondly, most importantly, to your point, do we expect laws to come out of this devastating crime? The answer is absolutely yes," Abbott continued. "And there will be laws in multiple different subject areas. For example, I do fully expect to have every law that we passed in the aftermath of the Santa Fe shooting to be completely revisited."
He also said the Legislature would work to pass laws making schools safer and addressing health care issues related to those who commit gun crimes.
Abbott this week has also dismissed stricter gun laws as a solution to the mass shooting.
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