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Uvalde School District to Abbott: Call Special Session on Raising Gun-Buying Age

Without a special session, the state legislature won’t meet to consider the idea until January at the earliest.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference about the mass shooting at Uvalde High School on May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District voted on Monday to formally request that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) call a special session of the state legislature in order to pass a bill that would raise the age limit to purchase a gun in Texas.

The resolution, which is nonbinding for the governor, comes two months after the horrific mass shooting in Robb Elementary School, which is in the Uvalde school district. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the massacre. The gunman, who had just turned 18 years old, had purchased two rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition days prior.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously by the school board of trustees, asks Abbott and the legislature to raise the age limit from 18 to 21.

“There’s no reason for an 18-year-old to have something like that,” Uvalde Schools Superintendent Hal Harrell said at the meeting.

According to the state constitution, only the governor can call a special session of the state legislature to consider a measure or list of proposals when the legislature is not in regular session. A special session can last for 30 days at most.

Zach Despart, a politics reporter for The Texas Tribune, tweeted earlier this week that most lawmakers in Austin may actually support raising the age limit. But it’s a “long way till they convene in January,” Despart added, noting that the next time the legislature is scheduled to meet is halfway through the upcoming school year.

In response to news of the request from the district, the governor’s office told The Texas Tribune that “all options remain on the table” and that “more announcements” regarding action to address gun violence would be coming. But the governor appeared noncommittal to the idea of raising the age limit, and didn’t indicate if he’d call a special session to consider the proposal.

Abbott has been under pressure to do something significant when it comes to guns in the state. His main gubernatorial opponent in this year’s midterm elections, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, has confronted Abbott directly about his inaction on gun reform, and polling shows that the gap between the two candidates may be closing, in part because of the issue of gun violence.

Surveys in the state also suggest that Texans support swift action on gun policy, and that they back the measure proposed by the Uvalde school board. According to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll published earlier this month, 70 percent of Texans support raising the age to buy firearms in the state, while just 25 percent say that they oppose the idea.

According to the poll, 52 percent of Texans believe that the state should have stricter gun laws, while only 28 percent say that the laws should be left as they are and 14 percent believe they should be less strict.

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