Bill raising age for assault weapon sales misses deadline

Bill raising age for assault weapon sales misses deadline
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In the wake of the Allen shooting, it looked like gun control was going to come to Texas whether anyone wanted it or not, primarily in the form of a bill seeking to raise the age to buy so-called assault weapons to 21.

It passed committee earlier this week in a surprising move, which meant that there was no guarantee it wouldn’t at least get through the legislature, leaving it up to Gov. Greg Abbott to decide.

However, it seems that effort was, ultimately, too little, too late.

The unexpected elation felt this week by gun control advocates and families of Uvalde shooting victims dissolved to despair Tuesday, when a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles lost its newfound momentum and was left off the Texas House’s agenda ahead of a key deadline.

Barring an unexpected development, the delay likely ends the bill’s chances of becoming law.

The proposal has long faced stiff odds in a state that has regularly loosened gun restrictions in recent years. But on Monday, in the aftermath of the deadly shooting in an Allen shopping mall, a House committee unexpectedly advanced the legislation in an 8-5 vote that included two Republicans supporting it.

That left little time for the bill to be added to the House’s calendar, however. The final day the House can pass bills is Thursday, and the chamber’s agenda must be approved 36 hours ahead of when they convene. That creates a de facto deadline of around 10 p.m. Tuesday for the measure to be placed on the calendar.

When that hour arrived Tuesday night, House Bill 2744 remained off the list.

Now, this is a big setback for proponents, including many Uvalde families that were present and supportive of this particular measure.

However, it’s not a done deal. There are ways this could, in theory, come back and get a vote.

That’s just a possibility. Few think that taking one of those approaches would really be successful for the bill. Even if they were, it would still have to go through the state Senate, a chamber that seems even less interested in passing such a measure.

So yeah, this looks like the bill is dead, and that’s good.

While I get the argument the families are making, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people who buy so-called assault weapons, even those under 21, are law-abiding citizens who just want the best tool to defend themselves that they can possibly have.

Since they’re federally barred from owning handguns–which some have tried to argue are better for self-defense than an AR-15 in order to justify assault weapon bans–then these rifles are the next best option for many.

While Uvalde was awful, mass shootings are actually fairly rare, all things considered. As noted in a post on Tuesday, since 1982 there have only been 144 mass shootings. There are more car accidents in some cities per day.

And most of those didn’t use an AR-15 or other “assault weapon.”

Meanwhile, millions of these guns rest in the hands of private citizens without any issue at all.

So while they’re upset, it looks like Texas is making the right move for the bulk of its people. I believe history will show that to be the case as well.