Texas lawmakers talk about fate of gun control

AUSTIN ( – The deadly mass shooting in Allen has heightened the debate over gun reform during the final weeks of the regular legislative session at the Texas Capitol.

This week, CBS News Texas spoke with Senator Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio whose district includes Uvalde and Senator Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, whose district includes parts of Dallas County.

Gutierrez said, “We failed in regulating guns. We have failed our communities and people and children are dying.”

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez talks about fate of gun control bill


Hall feels very differently. “I know people don’t like to hear it, but it’s not guns. It’s people. We have a people problem, that’s what we need to address.”

They are as far apart as two people can be when it comes to guns and whether there should be restrictions on AR style firearms.

Gutierrez said, “People are dying at the mall, and people are dying in schools, and people are dying in church. This weird fealty to an AR-15 rifle is nonsense.”

He and other gun reform advocates have said the AR-style firearms are the common denominator in the various mass shootings in Texas and across the country.

In response, Hall said, “That same weapon you’re talking about can be in the style that meets the definition of a pistol. So, coming up with a definition, it doesn’t take a significant number of weapons that can be used for self-defense. You got to remember, every time you want to restrict someone that would use it in an bad way, you’re keeping a person who would use it in a good way and so we’ve got to be careful.”

Gutierrez said, “Should we have universal background checks where we have some kind of registry that says hey, Jack owns this gun. The DMV knows what kind of car you drive, should we know you own an AR-15? I think we should.”

This week, a House committee passed House Bill 2744 that would raise the age someone could buy an AR-style firearm to 21.

But the measure didn’t meet a deadline Tuesday night to make it to the full House for a debate and vote.

An effort to make that happen failed Thursday.

Gutierrez said he won’t stop trying in the Senate to bring up his bills left languishing. 

When asked what parliamentarian action he could take to get gun reform bills moved to the full Senate for debate he said he tried to call a special order earlier in the week. “I’m going back and forth with the parliamentarian on that. She’s giving the precedent why I can’t, we’re giving her the precedent why we can and so, we’ll keep up the fight.”

Democrats in the Senate said none of their 39 gun reform bills received a hearing and have languished in committee.

Hall said he doesn’t see any action on Democratic bills but believes there is a potential solution. “One of the things that attracts these shooters is are the gun free zones, where they know they’re not going to have any opposition. One of the things I think we can do is significantly reduce the number of gun free zones.”

Hall is one of the only Republicans who we reached out to this week who was willing to discuss this issue. 

State Sen. Bob Hall talks about the gun control debate in Texas


Numerous Democratic lawmakers spoke out this week and all session.

Aside from the bill that would raise the age for someone to buy an AR-style firearm to 21, other bills won’t pass.

They include legislation to establish universal background checks, a red flag law, and create a bulk ammunition database.

But there are gun-related bills advancing in the legislature that include a mandatory ten-year minimum sentence for anyone using a firearm in a felony.

Other legislation is moving forward including making it a state jail felony for anyone buying a firearm for someone who’s prohibited from having one and making it easier for the state to comply with federal law that requires looking into the mental health backgrounds of 18 to 20 year-olds trying to buy a firearm.

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