AUSTIN (Nexstar) — In a Tuesday press conference surrounded by teary-eyed families of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary mass school shooting, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, introduced a new set of legislation related to the Uvalde massacre.
“This has to be the session where we do something,” he said. “It cannot be the session where we have roundtables. It cannot be the session where we just have discussions.”
The Democrat announced he and the families will be having a series of weekly press conferences, as he unveils “at least 20” pieces of Uvalde-related legislation in the coming weeks. Each week will bring a different theme of policy proposals. On Tuesday, Gutierrez said his four new pieces of legislation are related to “justice” for victims of school shootings.
One resolution he is introucing will allow injured students, teachers or families of victims of the Robb Elementary shooting to sue the state of Texas and any of its agencies. A second resolution would urge U.S. Congress to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers and distributors from liability related to crimes committed with their products.
His third piece of legislation introduced today would create the “School Violence Victims’ Compensation Act,” which would create a permanent fund for victims and survivors of Texas school shootings. For funding, the bill would establish a five-cent tax on every bullet sold in Texas, which Gutierrez estimates would generate about $50 million dollars for every billion bullets sold — that money would go directly toward this fund.
Lastly, Gutierrez is introducing a bill that has failed in the legislature before — to end qualified immunity for Texas peace officers, a statute that largely protects law enforcement officers from civil lawsuits for their actions on the job. Notably, qualified immunity became a “sticking point” during conversations around police reform in the 2021 legislative session.
“You can sue a lawyer, you can sue a doctor, you name it. But you can’t sue cops when they’re negligent. It’s astounding to me,” Gutierrez said. “I believe and I support law enforcement 100 percent… but under no circumstances should they be allowed to walk away and not compensate people.”
In order to get any of these bills across the finish line, the Democratic senator will need to garner support from Republicans — who control both chambers and hold the Governor’s office.
Sen. Gutierrez’s previously filed Uvalde-related bills
Gutierrez had previously introduced three other Uvalde-related bills, two related to firearm regulations and one that would create a state fund to compensate victims of the May 24 Robb Elementary tragedy.
Senate Bill 144 would create “extreme risk” protective orders, which would allow a judge to temporarily take away guns from a person who is deemed as posing a danger to themselves or others. His other bill, Senate Bill 145, would raise the age limit required to buy any firearm from 18 to 21.
Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested that age limits are completely out of the question. He pointed to a Texas federal court decision related to a state law that previously banned 18 to 20-year-olds in Texas from carrying handguns. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman said the law was unconstitutional, since the Second Amendment does not mention age limitations.
Gutierrez argues it would be constitutional, pointing to states like Florida, which passed a law raising the age limit after the 2018 Parkland mass school shooting.