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Uvalde families want vote on purchase age

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

How many decibels can convey the pain of a grieving father? How many can cut through the silent indifference at the Texas Capitol? How many does it take to stir Texans who haven’t yet lost a child to gun violence to join in calls for change?

These questions were no concern to state troopers under the pink dome on Tuesday night where Brett Cross, once again, was leading thunderous protests for a commonsense gun reform bill a year after his little boy, 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, was killed during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

“2744! Put this bill on the floor!” Cross and about a dozen other gun safety advocates yelled late into the night in the echoing halls of power, calling the number of the house bill that would raise the age to purchase assault-style rifles from 18 to 21. Such legislation could have stopped the Uvalde shooter, who had tried and failed to get weapons when he was under-age and then promptly obtained them legally when he turned 18.

The parents’ pain and bewilderment couldn’t be measured after months of rejection from mostly Republican lawmakers. But their decibel level could, by a handy device that troopers pulled out to record the noise level and justify ejecting Cross from the building for a rarely enforced infraction of disorderly conduct in a public place.

The footage of Cross being escorted out by several troopers, fist raised, defiantly leading a call and response with the advocates who remained stationed outside the House chamber, is emblematic of the righteous anger and courage displayed by the Uvalde families over the past year.

The hushed subtlety with which they were thwarted, perhaps for the final time this session, is emblematic of the cowardice on the other side.

There was no dramatic roll call vote on the House floor. There were no passionate speeches by lawmakers in favor of the measure, nor tears or solemn prayers among spectators in the gallery. Instead, the bill, by Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, much like the 21 victims at Robb Elementary, was killed behind closed doors, without any heroes left to save it.

Tuesday’s 10 p.m. deadline for HB 2744 to be placed on the legislative calendar for a full House vote came and went, even as Cross and his fellow protesters rallied until the bitter end. ... We commend the two Republicans, state Reps. Sam Harless, of Spring, and Justin Holland, of Rockwall, for seemingly voting their conscience in defiance of partisan inertia in the 8-5 committee vote. ... Thank you, Uvalde families, for your courage, your leadership, and your unrelenting decibels.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666