News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Families of Uvalde shooting victims will visit the Texas Capitol weekly to talk gun laws

 Felicha Martinez, the mother of 10-year-old Uvalde shooting victim Xavier Lopez, told reporters on January 24, 2023 she supports raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
/
KUT
Felicha Martinez, the mother of 10-year-old Uvalde shooting victim Xavier Lopez, told reporters on January 24, 2023 she supports raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21.

The families are pushing for a series of bills that range from ending qualified immunity to changing age limits to purchase a semi-automatic rifle. The group also wants to be able to sue the state over the botched police response.

Marissa Lozano wants lawmakers to do something about gun safety.

Her sister, Irma Garcia, was one of 21 people killed eight months ago at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. She said she’s frustrated with the Texas Legislature, arguing they haven’t done anything to prevent future school shootings.

“I wonder if it had been 21 abortions that were being performed in those classrooms if our elected officials would step in and do the right thing,” Lozano told reporters in Austin Tuesday.

Lozano and the families of other victims of the shooting said they will come to the Legislature every week to call for changes to the state’s gun laws.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, has been working with the families to file legislation that would help accomplish some of their goals.

During a press conference with the families on Tuesday, Gutierrez announced a package of bills that would end qualified immunity for police officers, making them more susceptible to lawsuits from victims of police violence. The legislation would also allow the families of the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School to sue the state or any of its agencies for the botched law enforcement response.

“This has to be the session where we do something,” Gutierrez said. “It cannot be the session where we have roundtables, it cannot be the session where we have discussions — this has to be the session where we do something on gun safety.”

Law enforcement waited over 70 minutes to confront and kill the teenage gunman in Uvalde.

Other bills from Gutierrez would call on Congress to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This federal act grants immunity from lawsuits to gun manufacturers. Another bill would create a permanent compensation fund for any victims of a school shooting.

Lozano said she will also fight for the Legislature to raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21. That’s a proposal many in Uvalde have backed as a potential solution.

“You say raising the age limit would not prevent these atrocities from happening because criminals don't follow the law,” Lozano said. “Well, this shooter did.”

The Uvalde gunman bought his firearms shortly after his 18th birthday.

Republicans in the Legislature, as well as Gov. Greg Abbott, have said raising the age limit might be unconstitutional, although experts have questioned their claims. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick didn’t immediately return a request for comment for this story.

Felicha Martinez, the mother of 10-year-old Uvalde victim Xavier Lopez, also called for changing the age limit.

“The age limit should be raised to 21, I feel, because having families torn apart is unlivable,” she said.
Copyright 2023 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán reports on Texas politics and government for The Texas Newsroom.