DALLAS — Texas educators were among a small group of protesters who marched through downtown Austin Tuesday, continuing the plea made by Texas Democrats for Governor Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to discuss gun violence in the state.
Organized by the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, the "Take Action: Stop Gun Violence" rally started at the Texas AFL-CIO Office, then led to a small memorial for the Uvalde victims at the State Capitol and ended at the J.J. Pickle Federal Building.
"I still want to believe that in his heart, Governor Abbott knows what's right," Ken Zarafis with Education Austin said. "But his political will is not there."
"Do their jobs," Texas AFT President Zeph Capo added. "That's what they need to do."
In Washington DC, there is evidence of some bipartisan agreement to at least begin talking. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday. Expanding background checks and red flag warnings, more funding for mental health resources, and raising the age of gun sales from 18 to 21 are all potentially on the table.
"There are limitations under federal law of what sort of firearms you can buy and own and maintain, if you have a criminal or mental health record. And we'll be looking at all of that," Senator John Cornyn said. "Try to see if we can agree on a basic framework about how we go forward."
President Biden on Monday, returning to the White House from his trip to Uvalde, pledged to do what he can.
"I'm going to continue to push and we'll see how this works," the President told reporters.
In the Democratic Caucus letter to Governor Abbott, all 13 Senate Democrats implored the governor to call a special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and proposed solutions.
"Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa," the letter to the Governor said. "After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now."
Representative Victoria Neave Criado, among the Democrats who signed a letter to Abbott noted on Twitter the she made the exact same request after the mass shooting in Odessa in 2019.
In contrast, Republican State Rep. Matt Shaheen tweeted the "calls for a special session are futile & premature given the confusion surrounding the horrific events in Uvalde."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the governor had not responded to the Democratic caucus letter. But at a Friday news conference he said, "you can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state. That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We're not going to be here and do nothing about it."