The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference on Monday where they continued calls to address gun violence with a special legislative session that would see lawmakers return to Austin insead of waiting until 2023.
“Texas has suffered mass shootings over the past decade, more than any other state,” said Caucus Chair Senator Carol Alvarado of Houston. “Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe, El Paso, Midland–Odessa, and now Uvalde. Eight-seven innocent lives lost, and hundreds of others affected by the shootings.”
Alvarado said after every mass shooting, Republican lawmakers have made it easier to carry and obtain a weapon while underfunding mental healthcare in the state.
The press conference highlighted the five legislative proposals Senate Democrats have called for since the Uvalde mass shooting: raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, requiring universal background checks, a “cooling off” period for firearm purchases, regulating ownership of high capacity magazines, and red flag laws that allow court orders to remove firearms from individuals that are a danger to themselves or others.
“These proposed solutions aren’t new, we’ve been pleading for years for common sense gun laws,” Alvarado said.
The most powerful words came from an emotional Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde.
Gutierrez spoke about visiting a civic center that had been transformed into a reunification center for families waiting to hear back from loved ones. He said all the families were asked to give DNA samples because some of the children were unrecognizable.
“I felt powerless to even talk to them, I’m ashamed to say, on that first night,” Gutierrez said of the families. “Because they were so — just quiet, just waiting for the news.”
“When some city employee or county employee came up to them and gave them the harsh news, you would hear wails, you would hear crying that you had never heard before in your life, not like any cry or sob but simply wailing,” Gutierrez said. “You heard people, moms and fathers, running out of that building wailing. And that’s what I need to impart to people.
“I’ve seen seven little girls in coffins, one that I could not see because her coffin was closed and you can only imagine why,” he said.
Following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Gov Greg. Abbott called for the formation of “special legislative committees” to examine and develop legislative recommendations.
Gutierrez described the ongoing committee hearings over Uvalde and the roundtables previously called by the governor on gun violence as pathetic and a “snow job.”
“He can have all the special committees he wants,” Gutierrez. “He can do all the roundtables and recommendations he wants, he can talk about school safety all he wants, but we don’t ever get to do anything without a legislative special session called on a date certain for 30 days.”
“Nothing that they’re doing, no investigation that’s gonna happen with regards to the response is gonna bring the lives of these children back,” Gutierrez said. “But God forbid that it happen in any one of these people’s home districts.”
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org