Texas senator proposes gun laws that allow school shooting victims to sue state, cut firearms tax

Texas senator proposes gun laws that allow school shooting victims to sue state, cut firearms tax

Austin, Texas — After mass shootings across the country this week, Uvalde families gathered on Tuesday and Texas lawmakers introduced four new bills that would tighten gun laws following the Robb Elementary School shooting last May.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, has introduced bills that, if enacted, would empower survivors of school shootings to sue Texas state agencies, allowing Texas law enforcement officers to be sued for their -behavior in the workplace, creating perseverance. a compensation fund for victims of school shootings by taxing state gun sales, and repealing the Lawful Commerce in Arms Protection Act, a federal law that protects gun sellers and gun manufacturers from liability.

Texas political watchers said gun reform is unlikely to succeed without the support of Republicans, who also control both houses of the Legislature and the government.

Gutierrez told ABC News that Republicans are not willing to co-sponsor any of the proposed bills, but they would all eventually have companion bills in the Texas House of Representatives. “Most of these are nonpartisan issues,” he said.

Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, said it’s time to address the nation’s gun problems as the list of mass shootings continues to grow.

“We can sue big tobacco when they market to children, but we can’t sue big guns. It’s very funny,” Gutierrez said.

Photo: Gloria and Javier Cazares hold a photo of their daughter Jackie, who was one of 19 children killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during a news conference at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, January 24 , 2023.

Gloria and Javier Cazares hold a photo of their daughter Jackie, who was one of 19 children killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during a news conference at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, January 24, 2023.

Eric Gay/AP

Last May, an 18-year-old gunman armed with an assault rifle attacked Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers. It was the second worst school shooting in US history, and has sparked several lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Velma Duran, sister of slain teacher Irma Garcia and a former teacher at Robb Elementary, urged lawmakers to consider the proposed bills.

“I come here pleading with you to pay attention to these synonymous gun laws that we as Americans and as teachers and children need to live in peace,” Duran said. “Are you waiting for it to happen to you or your family before you take the time to stop this gross negligence?”

Texas lawmakers have filed more than 30 gun control bills ahead of the 2022 Texas legislative session, the first such legislative session since the Robb Elementary shooting. Other proposals include raising the age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21, implementing red flag laws, and mandating background checks for all gun sales.

“The age limit should be raised to 21 because it’s not impossible for families to be torn apart… an 18-year-old should not be allowed to buy these kinds of weapons,” said Felicia Martinez, the victim’s mother Xavier Lopez, Tuesday,

“These laws need to be changed and they need to be changed today, not tomorrow,” Martinez said.

PHOTOS: State Sen.  Roland Gutierrez speaks during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol, Jan. 24, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez speaks during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol, Jan. 24, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Despite ongoing efforts by Uvalde families to lobby for gun reform, many of whom went to Washington, DC, last year to advocate for a federal assault weapons ban, Texas experts said it will be an uphill battle.

Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, said he doubts any gun control policy will make it into law this session.

“All of that has been proposed,” Jones told ABC News, “None of it will go.”

Jones said that while most Republicans believe the proposed amendments are violations of their second amendment rights, lawmakers face a real hardship in the Uvalde case.

“Uvalde is a difficult issue for lawmakers in that one of the most popular gun reforms he has proposed, which is the age of buying an assault rifle from 18 to 21, could be relevant and prevent it , if not for the massacre. itself, then scale the crowd,” Jones said.

Professor Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston said that the Republican majority under Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has all the power.

“[Republicans] set the agenda in the state senate. They decide the committees, they set the priorities. So, they have a lot of power,” Rottinghaus told ABC News.

PHOTO: The families of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio and 11-year-old Uziyah Garcia stand together during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol on Jan. 24, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

The families of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio and 11-year-old Uziyah Garcia stand together during a news conference at the Texas State Capitol on Jan. 24, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

“The way they talk about this is that it’s a public safety issue and not a gun issue. Anything to do with guns and restricting firearms is probably not going to work,” Rottinghaus said.

Others in the Legislature are already looking beyond gun legislation and grappling with the political realities of the gun-enthusiastic state.

Representative Shawn Thierry, a Democrat who represents parts of south Houston, has proposed several pieces of gun control legislation, but has also proposed measures to improve school security.

Thierry plans to introduce a bill that would force school districts to adopt a range of school security technology to mitigate threats to students and teachers, such as electronic metal detectors and panic alert buttons.

“These backstops will be necessary even if we raise the legal purchase age to 21, even if we ban assault weapons, even if we mandate background checks,” Thierry told ABC News. “These measures would not eliminate the need for additional school security.”

Thierry has also proposed legislation that would impose a 1,000% tax on assault rifle purchases — a measure she says could have bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled chamber.

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