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Governor says raising gun purchase age to 21 would be unconstitutional

Citing three recent court rulings, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday poured cold water on Uvalde residents’ key proposal to curb mass shootings.

SAN ANTONIO — Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday rejected a call from Uvalde residents to raise the purchase age for semi-automatic shotguns from 18 to 21.

People connected to children who died in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary have repeatedly called on Abbott to call a special session so lawmakers can debate the proposal.

“It’s clear that the gun control law they seek in Uvalde, as much as they want, has already been found unconstitutional,” Abbott said, citing three recent court decisions regarding gun laws. fire.

In May, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a California law that would have prohibited adults under 21 from purchasing semi-automatic centerfire shotguns.

The California attorney general’s office announced it was reviewing the decision. State prosecutors could appeal the decision.

In June, the United States Supreme Court overturned a century-old New York law that required citizens to demonstrate that they needed to carry a handgun outside their homes.

The High Court ruling did not address age restrictions, but radically changed the way judges will measure the constitutionality of gun laws. The decision represented a significant victory for gun rights organizations, perhaps signaling the judges’ appetite for watering down existing policies.

In August, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ruled that it was unconstitutional for Texas to ban adults under 21 from purchasing a handgun. The decision had no immediate effect.

Pittman put the decision on hold, expecting an appeal.

The city council, school board, and Uvalde County commissioners each formally asked Abbott to call a special session to raise the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles.

In response, Abbott’s office told KENS 5 “all options are on the table.” The governor’s remarks on Wednesday represent a clear departure from that stance, though not surprisingly.

Abbott would not support raising the purchase age at a May 25 press conference in Uvalde.

“The ability for an 18-year-old to purchase a long gun has been in place in the state of Texas for over 60 years,” he said. “In these 60 years, we haven’t had episodes like this.”

He said he did not know why mass shootings had apparently become more frequent, but argued that the collective mental health of communities had suffered during this time.

“Don’t just sit there and act like you’re for the people, you’re for the parents, you’re for the kids,” said Brett Cross, whose son died in the shooting at Robb. “You do not care.”