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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 Community Safety Select Committee approved the measure by an 8-5 vote, with two Republicans backing 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 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.

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 victims in an earlier shooting “illegal immigrants,” said in a Fox News interview after the mall shooting that Texas was focusing on the “root cause “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.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.