(AUSTIN, Texas) — Despite a consistent stream of tragedies, Texas officials aren’t doing enough to combat gun violence, according to elected officials, activists and families of people killed in mass shootings who say they are frustrated by a lack of legislative progress in the state.
Although gun reform activists claimed a small victory Monday when a Texas state house committee advanced a bill that would raise the age to buy assault-style weapons, they say the process shouldn’t take this long.
Rosie Yanas, who lost her 17-year-old son Chris in a 2018 school shooting at Santa Fe High School located outside of Houston, told ABC News that she and other families worry that no real change will happen given the pro-gun stance taken by many of the state’s leaders.
“Any change is better than nothing,” Yanas, who identifies as a conservative Republican said. “I may not agree with everything, [or] what everybody’s fighting for, but any kind of change is better than nothing.”
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, introduced several bills during this legislative session to combat gun violence. Aside from the bill to raise the age limit on assault-style weapons from 18 to 21, he also is pushing for mandatory safe storage laws, and extreme risk protective orders.
Gutierrez, a Democrat, told ABC News he knows that many of his proposals don’t stand a chance due to opposition from Republicans. However, he said it is worth trying.
“We’re never going to legislate this thing away, but we have to make it harder,” the senator told ABC News about gun violence.
Some activists have noted that other red states pushed to pass bipartisan gun reform bills without the roadblocks. Roughly three weeks after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun reform package that included raising the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21 and a red flag law that allowed law enforcement the right to petition a judge to take a gun away from an individual who poses a threat to themselves or others.
Republican Texas state Rep. Dustin Burrows and Democratic Texas state Rep. Joe Moody sat on a special legislative committee that came together after the Uvalde mass shooting, and responded to the calls from parents who are pushing to raise the age of assault weapon purchases.
Burrows told ABC News that he’s concerned about legal challenges down the line.
“I look at, you know, where are we going to spend our time?” he said. “You know, having a big, robust debate or trying to push something forward like that when there’s a lot of other solutions that I don’t think have this impediment that we can focus on and do.”
Moody told ABC News that it is important to have the conversation about raising the age.
“I will fight for those changes that I think would’ve made their community safer that day because I think they deserve it,” he said.
Christina Delgado, an activist who volunteers with the nonprofit Community Justice Action Fund, told ABC News that she thinks the lack of action by the Texas legislature, despite the outcry from the community, is sometimes caused by political games. However, she reiterated that gun violence and gun reform is not a political issue, but a public health issue.
“There are responsibilities that we all have, not just as parents, not just as Texans, but as Americans and, more importantly, as gun owners, to really stand by those responsibilities,” she said.
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