Gun-related bills in jeopardy of not making it out of committee

The Texas House Select Committee on Community Safety was created in February 2023.

On the heels of our state’s latest mass shooting and a weekend of gun violence here in San Antonio, there’s a last-minute push for gun violence prevention legislation.

Time is running out for bills written to change gun laws in Texas to make it out of the committee created to hear them.

“It’s sad that it’s come down to this last day,” Berlinda Arreola, secretary for Lives Robbed, said.

Lives Robbed is a nonprofit created after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

She said she’s angry and hurt that more movement hasn’t been made by the Texas House Select Committee on Community Safety to get through bills relating to guns.

It’s something she hoped to see done in honor of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims, like her step-granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza.

“I just don’t understand what it would take for everyone to understand how real this is, how traumatic this is, how it’s not going to stop you know, if we don’t make a change is just common sense gun laws,” Arreola said.

The House Select Committee on Community Safety was created back in February.

It has 13 bipartisan members that will hear bills relating to firearms: possession, use, sale and transfer.

Of the 139 bills presented to the committee since the start of the regular legislative session on January 10th, only 29 have made it out of committee.

Monday, May 8th, marks the last day for House committees to report their bills to be placed on the House calendar for discussion, leaving the 110 bills left on the table by the Community Safety Committee in jeopardy.

“Every single representative is going to have this on their hands, whether you’re Democrat or Republican, you know, it doesn’t matter because, you know, the bullet doesn’t discriminate,” Arreola said.

Just the day after a mass shooting at an outlet mall in Allen that left eight dead and nine wounded, Arreola said it’s more evident than ever that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Uvalde Representative Tracy King’s bill, HB 2744, is one of the measures that would be affected by Monday’s deadline.

“I call this bill 21 for 21, for the 21 souls we lost in Uvalde. Let’s raise the age 21 for the purchase of these weapons that took those innocent lives,” King, TX-District 80, said.

The Uvalde families have been advocating for HB 2744 for months.

King isn’t alone — State Senator Roland Gutierrez has filed 24 pieces of legislation in direct response to what happened at Robb last May.

None of his bills have made it to a hearing.

There has been no explanation from the committee chair as to why the other 110 bills have not progressed or called for a vote.

Monday morning, there is a rally planned by Texas Gun Sense, a coalition of gun violence prevention groups in Austin, to push the committee to take action.

That is all happening at 9 a.m.

An hour later, Senator Gutierrez will be joined by the Uvalde families to call for that same action.

KSAT 12 News will be streaming that 10 a.m. press conference online.

If you would like to voice your opinion or ask the representatives in the Community Safety Committee to bring these bills to a vote, you can call the members directly.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.