Texas House panel proposes bill to raise purchase age for semi-automatic rifles

A House committee in Texas on Monday advanced a measure that would raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles in an unexpected change after nine people died in a shooting at a Dallas-area mall during the weekend.

The Select Committee on Community Safety approved the measure on a 8-5 voices, with two Republicans supporting the Democratic bill. The measure is sponsored by Representative Tracy King, who represents Uvalde, where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school last May.

Under the provisions of the bill, the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and a caliber greater than .22 would be raised from 18 to 21 years.

King and Reps. Sam Harless and Justin Holland, the two Republicans who have backed the legislation, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday night.

Several states, mostly led by Democrats, have raised the minimum purchase age for semi-automatic rifles in recent years.

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Monday’s vote came two days after suspected shooter Mauricio Garcia, 33, killed eight people, including a 3-year-old boy and his parents, before being killed by a police officer, authorities said.

The measure still has a strong chance of passing the House, where Republicans hold an 86-64 advantage over Democrats. Republicans also control the Senate, 19-12, and the governor’s mansion.

Governor Greg Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

Abbott, who recently came under fire for calling the victims of an earlier shooting “illegal immigrants,” said in a Interview with Fox News after the mall shooting, Texas focused on the “root cause” by targeting mental health.

“There has been a dramatic increase in the amount of anger and violence taking place in America,” Abbott said. “People want a quick fix. The long term solution here is to address the mental health issue.

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