A group of Democratic lawmakers from North Texas are demanding the governor call a special session of the legislature to take action on gun control legislation.
The national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens led the charge.
After the shooting deaths of 22 people in El Paso this week, he says the Texas legislature needs to act before the next regular legislative session in 2021.
LULAC isn't just seeking a ban on assault rifles. They also want people who want to purchase a gun to undergo a mental health screen and universal background check, among other things.
“And what we are asking today is an outright ban on all military assault rifles,” said LULAC President Domingo Garcia.
LULAC is also demanding Governor Greg Abbott call for a special legislative session following the deadly shooting in El Paso last Saturday.
Garcia's demands were amplified by some members of the state legislature in attendance.
“We need an emergency session right now,” said Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas). “We cannot wait until 2021 to lose more lives in our state.”
“Governor, it's time to act. I stand with you,” said State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas). “I know it's a complicated issue. I know you have to balance different perspectives on this issue, and we can balance those perspectives.”
The different perspectives include Texans who want to see an all-out ban on assault rifles, gun owners who don't want lawmakers to infringe on their second amendment rights, and Texans whose views lie somewhere in between.
SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson believes Gov. Abbott will wait to see if Congress takes any action on gun reform before acting at the state level.
“I think the governor is likely to defer to what's going on in Washington see how that plays out,” Wilson said. “Whether there will be activity on background checks, red flag laws coming out in DC and then access whether Texas needs to take any additional action.”
Gov. Abbott has said he plans to hold a series of roundtable discussions talking about gun violence and possible reform.
West calls it a good first step.
“There is a way to balance the intent of the second amendment and make sure that people are safe in their house and their homes,” he said. “If action means some sort of mental health activity coming out of the legislature, some sort of restrictions on background checks or limitations on who can access those weapons, there may be some common ground to find there.”
There may be areas of agreement, but it is a very partisan issue.
Garcia is a major fundraiser for the Democratic Party. State Senator West, who is also a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican John Cornyn for his U.S. Senate seat next year.
No word yet from the governor as to when his roundtable discussions will begin. He has not responded to the call for a legislative session.