UVALDE, Texas — Uvalde city leaders Monday formally requested Gov. Greg Abbott call a special session, allowing lawmakers to debate raising the minimum age for purchasing a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21.
County commissioners and the school board have already sent a similar resolution to Austin.
“It puts a little more pressure on them,” said councilman Lalo Zamora. “It says, ‘We voted for you. Take it into consideration.’”
Texans cannot buy handguns from licensed dealers until they are 21 years old, but they may purchase rifles and shotguns after they turn 18.
Gun control advocates contend younger people, particularly men, are more likely to make violent choices with immediate impacts.
The Robb Elementary shooter purchased two AR-15-style rifles days after his 18th birthday. He fired on the school just days after he acquired the weapons.
Seven states have so far enacted laws to raise the purchasing age, but gun rights groups are suing in some courts to halt the laws’ enforcement.
Hector Luevano, a Uvalde councilman who endorsed the resolution, cast doubt about whether the city’s request would have any impact.
“Why do we have to ask for a special session? Why doesn’t he take the initiative?” Luevano asked, making reference to the governor. “I don’t know that he cares about Uvalde.”
Luevano noted that Gov. Greg Abbott attended an NRA meeting just days after the shooting at Robb Elementary.
Abbott has consistently blamed degrading mental health for gun-related violence.
A spokesperson for the governor Tuesday did not rule out calling a special session, saying “all options are on the table.”
But Abbott would not back raising the purchasing age from 18 to 21 during a press conference in Uvalde one day after the shooting at Robb Elementary.
“The ability of an 18-year-old to buy a long gun has been in place in the state of Texas for more than 60 years,” he said. “Over the course of that 60 years, we have not had episodes likes this.”
He said he doesn’t know why mass shootings have seemingly become more prevalent, but argued that communities’ collective mental health has suffered in that time period.
“I doubt very seriously (a special session) is going to happen,” Luevano said. “There’s an election coming up.”
Congress’s bipartisan gun reform bill will make it harder for young adults to buy semi-automatic rifles. The measure expands background checks, effectively creating a short waiting period for purchasers between 18 and 21-years-old.
But the bill doesn’t preclude young adults from purchasing assault weapons if they clear the background check after three to ten days.