We are all grieving, angry, shocked and saddened by the horrific shooting at the church in Sutherland Springs. People all over social media are taking sides and laying blame, discussing what should or should not be done. This is a public safety and public health issue and for the sake of saving lives, I pray that we resist the allure of our respective political camps in the “culture wars.” Texas policymakers have a responsibility to lead serious and reasoned public debates about solutions to the gun violence epidemic in Texas.
As a member of the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety, I have learned of policies to prevent gun violence that have been successfully implemented in other states. States that adopted these changes have experienced sizable decreases in gun violence. We owe it to Texans to explore all potential solutions. Below are ten measured and reasonable policy solutions that would not infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
These are things that Texas leaders can do to address gun violence in Texas:
- Direct the Department of Public Safety and the Department of State Health Services to conduct public education on safe gun storage, and suicide prevention.
- Crack down on gun trafficking that is rampant at our border.
- Require surrender of firearms by convicted domestic abusers.
- Require reporting of stolen guns. (In Texas, 18,000 are stolen annually.)
- Allow the state to investigate and prosecute anyone who knowingly lies on a background check form.
- Study the gun violence issue. Bring experts and interest groups together to discuss the problem and find solutions.
- Pass universal background checks. Quick, simple, and if you're a law-abiding citizen, no problem.
- Enact state laws that mirror federal laws on prohibited buyers, and improve enforcement.
- Require a “License to Carry” for long guns.
- Create lethal violence protective orders to allow courts to temporarily prohibit people at high risk of harming themselves or others from firearm possession.
We will never completely end gun violence. We can't stop every shooting or keep every criminal from getting a gun. But we can make it more difficult for them to access guns and we can, I'm certain, save lives.
I'm calling on Republicans, Democrats, gun owners, and concerned Texas leaders to step up and come together in dialogue, to find ways to better protect our citizens. This is not about being pro-gun or anti-gun. It's about addressing a very real problem that is taking Texas lives. And for me, 3,203 Texans dying each year due to firearms is not acceptable. What number is acceptable to you?