UNITED STATES NEWS

Rare GOP votes in Texas for gun bill after mass shootings

May 9, 2023, 4:27 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As a Republican in the Texas Capitol, Sam Harless turned heads: He voted in favor of a stricter gun law.

In doing so, the Houston state representative helped advance a bill in the Texas House that would raise the purchase age for AR-style rifles like the kind eight people at an outdoor mall in Dallas were killed by a 33-year-old gunman, who President Biden said used an AR-15-style weapon.

The bill as mass killings continue to spread anguish in Texas.

It underlined how almost any attempt to tighten gun laws in Texas is off the table in the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature, which in recent years has made gun access easier following other mass shootings and shows no appetite for reversing course. That includes Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who — since Saturday shooting in Allen — has called mental health the root of the problem.

That made Harless’ vote Monday all the more notable.

“Every kid has a right to go to school and feel safe, and every parent has a right for the kid to feel safe at school,” Harless said in an interview.

Another Republican, state Rep. Justin Holland, also joined Democrats on the House Select Committee on Community Safety in voting 8-5 to advance the measure that would raise the purchase age of certain semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21. The bill has been the priority all year of several Uvalde families whose children were among the 19 students and two teachers killed by a gunman nearly a year ago at Robb Elementary School.

The vote Monday came unexpectedly. For weeks the bill had stalled in the committee, but as protesters filled the Capitol and shouted “Do Something!” two days after the shooting in Allen, the committee gathered to vote the bill out.

In a statement defending his vote, Holland said, “I do not believe in gun control,” and he noted that he previously voted in support of Texas removing training and background checks to carry a handgun. He also said he has earned three consecutive “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association — but acknowledged he has “no idea” if they will rate him so highly going forward.

He said testimony given to the committee convinced him that a law raising the purchase age might serve as a “significant roadblock” to a young person acquiring certain semiautomatic weapons and causing harm.

Gun rights groups, which are rarely forced to aggressively play defense in the Texas Capitol, responded to the bill advancing by urging its members to call lawmakers. Texas Gun Rights, one of the most outspoken groups, said Tuesday that Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people during a Wisconsin protest in 2020 and was later acquitted of murder, had joined them in opposition to the bill.

Harless, who represents a solidly GOP-leaning district in the Houston suburbs, said he has received no pushback from other House Republicans.

“I just voted my heart and my constituents are likely not the gun groups,” Harless said.

For a decade, Nicole Golden has been a mainstay in the Texas Capitol in pushing for stricter gun laws, only to see Republicans instead gradually keep removing the ones that are in place. She called Monday’s vote “unprecedented” given the attention that had surrounded the bill.

Golden, the executive director of the group Texas Gun Sense, said the Legislature has let wither far less contentious bills over guns this year, including one to promote education about gun storage safety. She could not recall a previous time that Republicans took a vote like the one Monday.

“We’ve gone to their offices to thank them,” she said. “And I think that thanks are due.”

United States News

FILE - Skeletons of a human and a monkey await installation at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural His...

Associated Press

Our ancient animal ancestors had tails. Why don’t we?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Our very ancient animal ancestors had tails. Why don’t we? Somewhere around 20 million or 25 million years ago, when apes diverged from monkeys, our branch of the tree of life shed its tail. From Darwin’s time, scientists have wondered why — and how — this happened. Now, researchers have identified at […]

16 minutes ago

FILE - Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks a...

Associated Press

Democracy’s appeal is slipping as nations across much of the world hold elections, a poll finds

Representative democracy remains a favorite system of governance around the globe, but its appeal is slipping on the eve of elections in much of the world, according to a survey of 24 democratic countries by the Pew Research Center released Wednesday. While a median of 77% across the 24 surveyed countries said representative democracy was […]

20 minutes ago

Associated Press

Justice Department finds problems with violence, gangs and poor conditions in 3 Mississippi prisons

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi failed to protect inmates in three prisons from violence because it does not adequately supervise incarcerated people, control contraband or investigate harm and misconduct, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday. “These basic safety failures and the poor living conditions inside the facilities promote violence, including sexual assault,” the department said […]

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

US Rep. Lauren Boebert’s son arrested in connection with string of vehicle break-ins, police say

DENVER (AP) — The oldest son of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was in a Colorado jail on Wednesday after being arrested in connection with a recent string of vehicle break-ins and property thefts. Tyler Jay Boebert, 18, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and is facing possible felony charges of criminal possession of identification documents involving multiple […]

48 minutes ago

Associated Press

A New York collector pleads guilty to smuggling rare birdwing butterflies

NEW YORK (AP) — A Long Island man has pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking birdwing butterflies and other rare insects, according to a plea deal filed in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday. Charles Limmer, 75, of Commack, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to smuggle wildlife into the country and agreed to pay a $30,215 […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

A pregnant Amish woman is killed in her rural Pennsylvania home, and police have no suspects

SPARTANSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Investigators have no suspects in the killing of a pregnant 23-year-old Amish woman inside her home in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, and are appealing for tips from the public to help solve the crime, a state police spokeswoman said Wednesday. Rebekah A. Byler was the victim of a criminal homicide inside her […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Rare GOP votes in Texas for gun bill after mass shootings