Texas state lawmakers advanced a bill on Tuesday that seeks to raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21, just days after a mass shooting in Allen.
Two Republicans on the House Select Committee on Community Safety joined the committee’s Democrats to approve moving House Bill 2744 to the full chamber for a vote. This move is seen as a small victory for gun control advocates despite the bill being unlikely to pass the conservative Legislature and become law.
Reps. Sam Harless from Spring and Justin Holland from Rockwall, both Republicans, voted with Democrats on the last day of the bill’s deadline to move out of committee and continue through the legislative process. Their support came as a surprise, notably with Holland’s previous strong pro-Second Amendment stance.
The bill has been widely criticized by Republicans and gun rights advocates as infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding adults. Opponents of the bill have argued that if an 18-year-old is considered an adult with respect to voting, purchasing tobacco, and serving in the military, then it should entitle them to the full rights to protections granted by the U.S. Constitution.
The unexpected vote came just days after a gunman killed eight people, including several children, at a mall in Allen, Texas. Harless described his decision as “the most emotional vote” he’s ever taken, The New York Times reported. “I started crying after I made it. That means my heart told me I made the right vote,” he said.