Eleven months after the massacre of 19 students and two adults at Robb Elementary School, the Texas Legislature made the families of the victims wait 13 hours before they pleaded for common sense gun laws that could have saved the lives of their loved ones.
On Tuesday, April 18, advocates for House Bill 2744, which would raise the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, waited to plead its passage to the House Select Committee on Community Safety.
Similar to state bills in seven other states, this bill could have prevented the gunman in Uvalde and at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, from legally purchasing weapons. New York has since passed this law, and Texas should follow suit.
There have been continuous mass shootings in Texas over decades, yet there's been no meaningful legislation to turn the tide. The legislation proposed in HB 2744 by Uvalde Rep. Tracy King is the beginning of a dialogue stuck in neutral.
Both the aforementioned mass shooters legally purchased their weapons, AR-15s designed for war, when they were 18. The Uvalde shooter waited until just a day after his birthday because he had asked relatives to buy it for him illegally before but was unsuccessful.
Before purchasing, the Buffalo shooter had been to the hospital for a mental health issue, which raised no red flags and allowed him to purchase legally.
Raising the age may have delayed the pursuit of the weapon intended for mass casualties, but that does not mean this is not a bill not worth fighting for. The brain is not fully developed into adulthood until age 30, according to Men's Health, which is well after the period a gun can be legally purchased.
In the U.S., gun violence has surpassed auto accidents as the leading cause of death for children in 2020, according to a University of Michigan report. Kids cannot reach adulthood because of suicides, accidental shootings, and, most commonly, homicides because of gun violence.
A state where more guns get purchased than any other in America can make one feel unsafe as laws bend in the wrong direction. Months before the shooting in Uvalde, the Texas Legislature passed a permit-less carry law for gun owners over 21, directly contradicting the age of 18 when they have the ability to purchase a class of guns that includes assault rifles.
HB 2744 deserves to be a law that could create the common sense around the debate missing from our state's government.
- Dillon Strine is a journalism senior
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