AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Hundreds of gun control advocates took to the steps of the Texas Capitol Saturday to advocate for age restrictions, two days after a federal judge in Texas lifted a ban on young adults from carrying firearms.
On Thursday, a Fort Worth federal court tossed the state’s law that prohibited people ages 18 through 20 from being able to carry a handgun. Texas law bans most young adults from getting a license to carry or merely carrying a handgun for self-defense outside of their home.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman wrote the Second Amendment does not clearly specify any age restrictions.
“The Second Amendment doesn’t have any sort of age restriction. The absence is notable,” Pittman wrote in the ruling. “Based on the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by Founding-Era history and tradition, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition.”
Pittman’s order will not go into effect immediately, as the state of Texas has 30 days to appeal the decision.
The ruling comes three months after an 18-year-old gunman used a legally purchased AR-15-style weapon to murder 19 kids and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. While that specific law would not have applied to the Uvalde gunman, community members have been amplifying their demands for raising the age limit on purchasing semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21.
In Austin on Saturday, families of victims and survivors marched outside of the governor’s mansion and the Capitol grounds, demanding Gov. Greg Abbott call a special legislative session to raise the age to buy some weapons.
Javier Cazares — whose fourth-grade daughter was amongst the slain children in Uvalde — said he was not there in political protest but to keep a promise to not let down his daughter Jackie.
“Our children’s lives depend on common sense laws that the vast majority of Texans desperately want. No matter what their party is,” Cazares said.
His other daughter, Jazmin Cazares, also spoke at Saturday’s rally. She pointed out not only did she lose her little sister, but her cousin Annabelle was also among the 19 children killed at Robb Elementary on May 24.
“Because of an 18-year-old boy with an AR-15, my sister never got to celebrate becoming double digits. She will forever be 9 years old,” she said. “It’s been three months since 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, and still not much has changed in Uvalde, let alone the state of Texas.”
The majority of the speakers at Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally included a call to raise the age limit on such firearms in their speeches. Speakers included self-proclaimed Republicans and Texans of all ages, like Robb Elementary shooting survivor Kaitlyn Gonzalez.
“You have to be 21 to buy a case of beer, but an 18 year old bought a gun to kill kids. That does not make sense,” she said.
A 2019 study from the University of Alabama evaluated 36 years worth of shootings and found 80% of shooters obtained their weapons legally. More than a quarter of attackers were under the age of 25 and nearly 7% were under the age of 18.
Out of those attackers 18 and older, less than 15% decided to attack a school, but shooters under the age of 18 chose schools as the primary targets.
A special legislative session on this topic is likely. The governor has often deferred to other action in the legislature, pointing to interim committee work and recommendations related to school safety and mental health, as well the $100 million lawmakers transferred to the Texas Education Agency for related resources. Abbott and other Texas Republicans have maintained their stance that gun laws would not stop violence.