In a surprise move, Texas lawmakers have introduced an assault weapons bill


In a surprise move, Texas lawmakers have introduced an assault weapons bill

Texas lawmakers on Monday advanced a gun control bill in a surprise move that came just hours after families of mass shooting victims begged them to take action in the wake of Saturday's rampage at a shopping center in Allen that left eight people dead.

House lawmakers voted Monday out of committee on a bill that would raise the legal age to purchase an assault-style weapon to 21 and ban the sale of firearms to those intoxicated or with a protective order against them. Two Republicans joined all of the Democrats on the committee in supporting the bill by an 8-5 vote. Families from Uvaldi, who have staunchly defended the bill, applauded after the vote.

Monday was the last day the measure could be put out of committee for a vote before the legislative session ended on May 29.

Before Monday's vote, the families of Yeovalde and Sutherland Springs — the site of a horrific church shooting in 2017 — pleaded with lawmakers to get the legislation off the ground.

Nikki Cross, whose baby Izzia died in Uvalde, said she has been to the legislature almost every Tuesday and Thursday since sitting began in January. She directly addressed state Republican Rep. Ryan Guillen, who serves as chair of the Community Safety Select Committee.

"I'm not coming here and asking you to bring my baby back," Cross said. "So, a very small, simple act — can we just raise the age limit to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21?"

Even after Monday's surprise move, the bill still faces an upward trajectory, and the clock is ticking to pass any legislation.

Democrats would likely lack support to pass the bill on the state floor, and even if it did pass, it would still have to pass through the Republican-led state senate and be signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated he opposes the gun law. "We're working on addressing anger and violence by going to its root causes, which is addressing the underlying mental health issues," Abbott said on "Fox News Sunday."

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose county includes Uvalde and who led Monday's press conference, has introduced several bills in the state Senate that have yet to be voted on.

It is not clear if the proposed measures if in effect, would have any impact on the gunman in Allen, where authorities say he was in his 30s. More details about his background are not available to the public yet. Texas has a loophole that allows law enforcement and prosecutors to withhold public records in investigations without conviction. While this can protect information about a person not convicted of a crime, it is often known as the "dead suspect vulnerability" because it allows data to be withheld in the event of a suspect's death, even when the suspect has been killed by law enforcement or by law enforcement—self-inflicted wound.

The attacker, who killed 19 children and two teachers at Uvalde Primary School, bought his gun at 18.

"This entire state has been dealing with the Uvalde tragedy for a year now, and we still don't know what fully happened in Uvalde," Gutierrez said Monday. "What we've seen has come through the leaks; it's come, you know, from the information the journalistic world has."

A law enforcement source told CBS News Sunday that an assault-style weapon was used in the shooting at the Allen Mall, and the gun was an AR-15, the White House said in a statement.

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