House Bill 2744, by Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, would raise the minimum age required to purchase semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. The bill has been pushed for months by the families of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed during a mass shooting in Uvalde last year.
In a victory for the victims’ families and other gun safety advocates, the House Select Committee on Community Safety, which deals with gun-related legislation, passed the bill out of the committee with an 8-5 vote May 8. Republican Reps. Sam Harless, of Spring, and Justin Holland, of Rockwall, voted with Democrats in favor of the bill.
But despite the committee’s vote, the bill will not be heard on the House floor. According to the chamber’s rules, all House bills must receive initial passage by May 11. The House’s calendar must be approved 36 hours in advance, meaning that all bills had to be placed on the calendar by 10 p.m. May 9.
Just before 10 p.m., a small group of gun safety advocates rallied outside the House chamber, asking the House Calendars Committee to send the bill to the floor. The bill was not added to the calendar.
Brett Cross, who lost his 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia in the Uvalde shooting, was among the protestors. Cross led the group in chants of “2-7-4-4, put this bill on the floor!” Their voices could be heard faintly inside the House chamber.
Meanwhile, outside the House chamber, @BCross052422 & other gun safety advocates chanting “2744, put this bill on the floor!” ahead of the 10 pm deadline to get the raise-the-age bill on the House calendar.
Calendars cmte met today and didn’t send HB 2744 to the floor for W/Th. pic.twitter.com/kco2eyTLq3— Hannah Norton (@HannahNorton89) May 10, 2023
Shortly after 10 p.m., troopers from the Department of Public Safety told Cross he was being too loud and escorted him out of the Capitol building.
“HB2744 may have died, but our hope has not,” Cross said on Twitter. “Texan parents are coming together in a way never seen before. We proved by getting HB2744 as far as it did, that the power of the people, is a power that can be harnessed and used to make this state live up to the expectations that we once mandated.”
State lawmakers also shared their thoughts about the bill’s fate on social media. Houston Democratic Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a member of the Community Safety committee, said he was “sickened” that the bill did not advance.
HB 2744 is unlikely to become law this session. Democrats may attempt to add the bill’s provisions to other legislation through amendments, but committee Chair Rep. Ryan Guillen, R-Rio Grande City, said he did not believe the measure has enough support for approval by the full House.
Kimberly Mato-Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was killed in Uvalde, told state leaders, “We’ll be back.”