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Gov. Abbott says increasing the age to buy assault weapons in Texas is unconstitutional

Greg Abbott smiles as he listens to supporters outside a campaign event.
Texans for Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott poses with supporters at a campaign event in North Texas on Wednesday. He told reporters that increasing the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon is unconstitutional.

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Gov. Greg Abbott said raising the minimum age to purchase an assault-style weapon to 21 is unconstitutional, effectively shutting down one of the few proposals with bipartisan support after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Since May’s shooting at Robb Elementary School — which left 19 children and two teachers dead — parents and families of the victims have asked Abbott to call for a special session and push for the age increase. As The Texas Newsroom previously reported, the change also gained traction among Uvalde residents from across the political spectrum.

But Abbott, who is running for reelection, said that won’t happen.

“There have been three court rulings since May that have made it clear that it is unconstitutional to ban someone between the ages of 18 and 20 from being able to buy an AR,” Abbott told reporters Wednesday during a campaign stop in Allen.

In May, the U.S. 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California banning people under 21 from purchasing a semi-automatic weapon violated the Second Amendment.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas overturned a state law that banned people under 21 from purchasing handguns.

“It is clear that the gun control law that they are seeking in Uvalde, as much as they may want it, has already been ruled to be unconstitutional,” Abbott said.

Salvador Ramos, the Robb Elementary shooter who was killed by law enforcement, legally purchased two semi-automatic rifles after his 18th birthday.

The Republican governor’s comments come four days after a group of parents and family members of Uvalde shooting victims protested outside of Abbott’s home and at the Texas Capitol.

Abbott’s comments immediately received criticism online, including from Uvalde families.

Brett Cross, the father of 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia, pushed back on Twitter against Abbott’s remarks.

“That piece of s—t that murdered our children legally bought that damn gun. Legally,” Cross said in a video. “You could do something about it — you are just too chickens—t to do it.”

According to a recent poll by the Texas Politics Project, 70% of Texans support increasing the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21.

Cross encouraged the governor to call for a special session.

“Don’t sit there and act like you are for the people, that you are for the parents, that you are for the children because you don’t give a damn,” Cross said. “But I implore you: make a liar out of me. Call a special session.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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