Following the Allen mall shooting on May 6, only weeks from the first-year anniversary of Uvalde’s school shooting, gun safety legislation has taken the forefront of political discourse as the legislative year comes to a close. State Representative Jeff Leach, whose district comprises portions of Plano, Allen and Dallas, said the most recent shooting will lead to policy change.
Leach is the fourth Texas Republican lawmaker to come forward willing to initiate a discussion about enhancing gun regulations in Texas.
On May 8, two Texas Republican state Reps., Sam Harless from Houston and Justin Holland from Rockwall, joined Democrats in favor of advancing House Bill 2744 which would raise the purchase age for AR-style rifles. While the bill did not make the deadline to advance to the full chamber, the surprising support from the two conservative representatives gave gun control arguments a rare momentum for Texas.
Three days after the tragedy at Allen Premium Outlets, state Rep. Frederick Frazier, also a Republican from Collin County who was shopping at the mall before the shooting, said he is “absolutely” willing to consider changes, especially to laws surrounding AR-15-style weapons.
“I’m a Republican through and through, but this needs to be when we come together and figure out how to fix this,” Frazier told WFAA. “Are we making it too easy for them to get these weapons? Why is that particular weapon the weapon of choice every time?”
Leach, who according to an interview with WFAA lives one mile away from the Allen Premium Outlets, also spoke up about a need for change in gun control policy. While, like many Republicans, Leach pointed to mental health as part of the issue, he said he is open to a conversation to discuss a bill that would help prevent these kinds of tragedies.
“What I do know, is that this is happening way too much and it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Leach one day after the Allen tragedy.
However, unlike Frazier, whose concerns centered around the accessibility of AR-style rifles, Leach kept his opinions on gun control laws vaguer. “The devil is in the details in the legislation… so I’m open to a conversation but I don’t have any bill in front of me right now that I’ve seen that could’ve prevented this, but we have to come up with solutions.”
In an interview with NBCDFW, Leach said he would not have supported HB 2744 had it made it to the full chamber, calling it unconstitutional and that it wouldn’t have prevented the shooting in Allen, where the gun was bought by a 33-year-old.
The 88th Legislature’s session will come to an end on May 29 and with a little over two weeks to advance legislation, Leach appeared optimistic about the House’s ability to take action. “We’re going to use any and all tools in the toolbox to advance legislation that will protect our Second Amendment rights and yet keep our communities safe,” said Leach, adding, “We’ve got time left here to do it. And we’re working around the clock to do just that.”