After months of pleading for more gun control measures, a Democrat who represents Uvalde, Tex., where 19 children died in a mass shooting, was told by the Republican leader of the State Senate to stop bringing up gun legislation or be barred from speaking at all. In the State House, Republicans joked among themselves as another Democrat, Rep. Jarvis Johnson, rose to discuss gun control. “This is not a joke — this is real,” he shouted from the lectern on Friday. “Children every day are dying.” Hours later, violence erupted at a popular shopping center in the Dallas suburb of Allen, where a gunman armed with an AR-15-style rifle killed eight people and wounded seven others. Among some Texans, the drumbeat of mass murder has fueled rising frustration and a slight openness to more gun regulation. The violence has done little to reshape political realities: Republicans control both legislative chambers and all statewide offices, reports the New York Times.
In the past two years, as the state has been shaken by more than a dozen mass killings of four or more people, Texas has increased access to firearms, doing away with its permit requirements to carry handguns and lowering the age when adults can carry handguns to 18 from 21. On Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott attended a vigil for the victims at the shopping center, but said there would be no new effort by his administration to limit access to firearms — because it would not work. “We’ve seen an increased number of shootings in states with easy gun laws as well as shootings in states with very strict gun laws,” Abbott said. He said Texas was responding to the “dramatic increase in the amount of anger” across the U.S. by going to “its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it.” President Biden urged action. “Republican members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug,” he said calling for “a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” In Texas, a bill to raise the age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle to 21 from 18 has been introduced by Democrats, but it was not likely to pass before a legislative deadline on Monday. That would have prevented the 18-year-old gunman in Uvalde from purchasing his weapon.