Tag Archives: shootings

3 overnight shootings in Austin 1 day after 6th Street mass shooting

3 overnight shootings in Austin 1 day after 6th Street mass shooting

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Austin community, along with the nation, is still digesting news of the mass shooting on 6th Street Saturday, several other shootings in the city have already followed the incident that sent 14 people to the hospital.

Three separate shootings sounded across the Austin area in the early morning hours of Sunday, Austin police say. Here’s what we know.

Shooting #1

This east Austin shooting incident happened around 2:09 a.m. near Todd Lane, nearly the same location as a different shooting that happened just days earlier.

While there are few details on what led up to the incident, police report there was a large gathering before. Two female victims are said to be in critical, but stable condition in the hospital.

Shooting #2

This incident happened around 2:39 a.m. Sunday, on Jollyville Road in north Austin.

According to police, one male suspect was taken to the hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

Shooting #3

This north Austin shooting incident was reported at 3:07 a.m. on Howard Lane. Police say a man was taken to a Round Rock hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

KXAN will update stories on these cases as details are released.

In the wake of the Saturday mass shooting, which captured national attention, many have zeroed in on how policing in the city of Austin could have factored in. On Saturday morning, Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon commended the department for its speedy response, but underlined how difficult it’s become to fully staff the downtown area during peak hours.

Canceled cadet classes and budgetary transitions made by Austin City Council have been suggested as reasons for a more constrained patrol force.

Last August, City Council voted unanimously to adopt a 2020-21 budget moving about $ 150 million from APD’s funding into other areas of public safety and health. New cadet classes were effectively shut down while an audit of new officer curriculum was conducted.

Unfavorable attitudes toward APD spiked over summer 2020, as the department’s response to a series of social justice protests were condemned by some. Deployment of “less lethal” bean-bag rounds at protesters were particularly criticized and the Office of Police Oversight receipted 82 complaints from protesters who say officers went too far.

But while that debate continues, Chacon assured Austinites and visitors that nights out in Texas’ Capitol city should continue, but that vigilance is key.

“Overall, we remain a safe city. And I think that people should keep that in mind. But also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Travel in groups, if possible. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings. And importantly, if you plan to drink, have a plan to get home,” Chacon said.

Nationally, violent crime, particularly homicides, are on the rise as the pandemic winds down. A May study by the Council on Criminal Justice found a 30% increase in homicides out of 34 U.S. cities in 2020, in addition to an 8% increase in guns assault cases.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

23 Houston police shootings in the last year, but no video released

23 Houston police shootings in the last year, but no video released
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Standing alongside the city’s new police chief, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer highlighted the need for police reform and increased transparency to build trust between police and the community.”We can’t just talk (about) transparency and accountability and don’t do it,” newly-appointed Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said on April 29. “The mayor has given the marching orders and I totally agree. Within 30 days, we’re releasing all officer-involved shootings where there is an injury or a death, period, moving forward in my administration.”

As our investigation reveals, it turns out that phrase “moving forward” held more importance than we knew.Four days after that announcement, city attorneys continued to use Texas law to try and keep body-worn camera footage from past officer-involved shootings secret.

Floyd, a Houston native, was killed May 25, 2020, by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A bystander captured 9 minutes of the incident on video, which sparked outrage across the nation and eventually led to a murder and manslaughter conviction of Chauvin.

Chauvin’s own body camera video was evidence in the trial against him as were other officers.

A year later, despite the city’s promises of transparency and a new policy allowing the release of body camera footage within 30 days of a critical incident, HPD has not released any video from the 23 HPD officer-involved shootings since Floyd’s death.

Timeline:13 Investigates take a look back at the city’s promises to release body camera video from officer-involved shootings and if they’ve followed through.On mobile device? Click here for a full screen experience.

When 13 Investigates’ Ted Oberg pressed Turner on why video from past officer-involved shootings have not been released, the mayor maintained the policy is not retroactive and “would be moving forward.”

Sean Roberts, an attorney who represents the family of Nicolas Chavez, who died in an officer-involved shooting last April in east Houston, said based on past experience with the department, he doesn’t trust the city will release video of officer-involved shooting in a timely manner.

READ ALSO: Family of Houston man shot and killed by officers suing HPD for $ 100M

“If the city was really serious about transparency, it would not be forward (looking),” Roberts said. “This would be retroactive to whenever, in any incident where there’s been a police killing or a serious injury, that we can go as far back as we need to.”

When looking at the nation’s 10 largest cities, our investigation found HPD trailing behind when it comes policies surrounding release of bodycam footage.

“We weren’t where we needed to be, that’s for sure,” Houston Councilmember Ed Pollard said.

Before Turner announced last month that video in officer-involved shootings would be released within 30 days, Houston was the only major city without a policy in place allowing the release of video.

Currently, most cities say video can be released within 45 to 60 days. Dallas’ policy, which was implemented 10 months before Houston’s, mandates the release of video within 72 hours.

“When you’re able to be transparent about the actions or involvement on a scene that involves officers, it’s necessary. We want the public to have access to see what’s going on within their communities, as it pertains to incidents involving police officers,” Pollard said. “We’ve seen that over time that it’s usually cameras more so than eyewitness testimony that actually give us the real story.”

‘Promise of transparency’

Last summer, former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo took a knee in solidarity while joining more than 60,000 people as they marched to City Hall following Floyd’s death.

Floyd’s case highlighted the importance of video as key evidence in officer-involved shootings.It took months before bodycam footage from Floyd’s death was released to the public, but in Houston, the city spent the last year vowing to release video sooner.

“When we have a use-of-force incident, we take care of business and we don’t just whitewash stuff,” Acevedo told Oberg in June as he marched with demonstrators.

The following week, Turner announced the formation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform as a result of the Floyd killing. The task force released recommendations in September, which called for the 30-day release of bodycam video in critical incidents, including officer-involved shootings.

Nine of the 23 officer-involved shootings since Floyd’s death were deadly, nine more resulted in injuries and there were five cases where no one was injured.

Using Texas open records laws, 13 Investigates asked for copies of video from all 23 of those shootings, but HPD hasn’t released a single second of video.

City attorneys responded with a letter to the Texas Attorney General citing ongoing investigations of alleged misconduct by officers and active criminal investigations as some reasons to keep the video from the public.

“Consistent use of a body-worn camera in the field is only the first step,” according to the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform recommendations, which were released last September. “Withholding BWC video footage from the public after a critical incident does not fulfill the initial promise of transparency and accountability.”

Turner said the task force recommendations only relate to future shootings, but there’s no mention of that in the 154-page report.

“We are doing exactly what the mayor’s task force on police reform asked us to do and now you asked him for something that wasn’t even a part of the 104 recommendations,” Turner told Oberg.

There has been one officer-involved shootings since Turner’s April 29 announcement. A man was shot and killed by police early in the morning on May 25. While it has not been 30 days, 13 Investigates requested video of that shooting and it too has not been released.

Pollard said he’s optimistic the city will follow through with its new policy to release video within 30 days.

“The public should always have the right to see it, no matter what,” Pollard said. “Even if the (district attorney) is doing an investigation or there’s some internal affairs investigation, within 30 days, the public should be able to see it.”

Video not released in full

The last time HPD released bodycam footage from an officer-involved shooting, it took five months to release just snippets of what happened when police shot Chavez 23 times.

Former chief Acevedo previously said there were 70 videos from the bodycams that officers were wearing on April 21, 2020, when Chavez died.

Instead of releasing the video in full, the city released a heavily edited video, which included commentary from Acevedo saying officers were “fearing” for their safety.The video showed a lengthy standoff between officers and Chavez, who 911 callers said was “throwing himself in front of cars” on the freeway and who looked like he “was having a mental breakdown.”

At one point, Acevedo said Chavez was holding a metal object, and the video shows him telling officers “shoot me.”

“They still haven’t released an unedited, unannotated tape and so what we have are annotations and narrations, essentially trying to paint the Chavez killing as something that it wasn’t,” said Roberts, who represents the Chavez family. “It was very helpful in this case, just like it is in all cases, because these police officers, when there’s a death or serious injury that occurs, don’t always tell the truth about what happened.”

Last summer, while Acevedo called for police transparency while participating in the Floyd march, HPD still continued to withhold the bodycam footage in the Chavez case, Roberts said.

When he asked for the video, Roberts said the city responded with “all sort of departmental exceptions to releasing it and because there was an eminent investigation of the police officers themselves that was used as a basis for withholding the video.”

In February, the Chavez family filed a lawsuit suing the department over a policy that allegedly led to his death.

“The policy that we’re looking into and attacking is the police department’s policy on individuals that come into contact with tasers,” Roberts said. “Mr. Chavez apparently grabbed a used cartridge Taser and this was the justification that the police used and that the police officer union has said they followed police policy and training when they shot him 23 times.”

Roberts said the city wants the case dismissed on qualified immunity, which protects officers from personal liability in some cases.

Prior to the lawsuit being filed, Roberts said he requested the bodycam footage through an open records request, using the same law 13 Investigates used when requesting the video.

“That was sat on and the response was we’re not going to turn it over because there are these exceptions,” Roberts said.

In Texas, video from bodycams must be retained for at least 90 days, but policies regarding activation and the release of footage is up to individual departments. Roberts said he hopes to eventually subpoena the video as evidence as part of the lawsuit.

More than a year after his death, a white cross with the words “Nick Chavez” written on it is surrounded by brightly colored flowers and a black and white photo of him at a makeshift memorial near the intersection where he died.

Despite HPD eventually releasing portions of bodycam video from that night, Roberts said more is needed to know exactly what happened that day. He hopes the city follows through on its promise to release video within 30 days of an officer-involved shooting.

“A picture really is worth a thousand words and a video is more like worth a million,” Roberts said. “The truth, sometimes it’s ugly, but it can help us get past this state that we’re in.”

Follow Ted Oberg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Ted Oberg

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

2 dead, at least 3 others injured in 6 separate shootings across Houston

2 dead, at least 3 others injured in 6 separate shootings across Houston
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Houston police officers are investigating six separate shooting scenes that killed two people and injured at least three others.All of the shooting calls around the area happened after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

The first was reported as a shooting-in-progress call at 6200 Evergreen in southwest Houston around 5:50 p.m.A few minutes later, a shooting was reported at 2500 Westridge near NRG Park. The victim was initially taken to the hospital in stable condition, but HPD later tweeted that the victim died.

At 8:22 p.m., HPD posted again on social media about a shooting at 3800 Southlawn in southeast Houston. The victim in this shooting was originally taken to the hospital in critical condition, but died at the hospital.

Minutes later at 8:30 p.m., police shared that a man was shot and injured at 4400 Pershing off the South Loop in southeast Houston. At this scene, police said the man is expected to survive.

Just after that, HPD posted about a shooting at 6900 Bellfort in southeast Houston where the man who was shot and injured was expected to survive.
Around 10:15 p.m., HPD reported a shooting at 8600 Cottage Gate Lane in northwest Houston. Paramedics took one patient to the hospital.

No further details were released about the incidents.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Ma'Khia Bryant's Death Keeps Columbus Grappling With Police Shootings

Author Will Wright, Lucia Walinchus and Kevin Williams
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Ma'Khia Bryant's Death Keeps Columbus Grappling With Police Shootings

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bullet hole in a garage near her sister’s house marks the place where Adrienne Hood’s son, who was Black, was shot and killed by police officers in Columbus in 2016.

Ms. Hood said her son’s death opened her eyes to a city and a Police Department that have been enveloped in controversy for years. The more she learns, she said, the more she feels disappointed.

Since the death of her 23-year-old son — killed after exchanging gunfire with two plainclothes police officers who, she said, did not identify themselves as officers — 26 people have been shot to death by law enforcement in Columbus, according to Mapping Gun Violence. Four of the deaths occurred in the past four months.

“It’s becoming more and more clear that there is no respect for Black bodies and Black communities,” Ms. Hood said.

Police killings in Ohio’s capital city have not attracted the same attention as higher-profile cases in places like Louisville, Ky., Minneapolis and Ferguson, Mo. But the death this week of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl who was shot at four times by a white police officer after she lunged at someone with a knife, was only one of the several that have led to vigorous protests in Columbus over the past year.

Last week, eight days before Ms. Bryant’s death, the police shot and killed a Black man at a Columbus hospital during a struggle as officers attempted to arrest him. Body camera footage showed officers in a standoff with the man, Miles Jackson, before a shot could be heard, possibly from Mr. Jackson’s weapon, and they opened fire.

In a year that has seen protests over police shootings unfold in Columbus with regularity and intensity, the death of Mr. Jackson on April 12 unleashed a particularly furious demonstration. Protesters broke through a door at Police Headquarters, according to the Columbus Department of Public Safety, and one of them assaulted an officer with a club.

Though almost 30 percent of residents are Black, 85 percent of the police force is white. Yet slightly more than half of all use-of-force cases in 2017, the most recent year surveyed, were directed at Black residents, according to an operational review.

Columbus has boomed in recent years, its population of 898,500 now larger than that of Seattle, Denver and Boston. Wealthy tech companies have helped fuel the city’s remarkable growth, pumping up trendy bars and restaurants to support their young and well-paid employees.

But much of that growth has been on the perimeter of the city and near the bustling campus of Ohio State University. In many neighborhoods like Ms. Bryant’s, many of them east of Interstate 71, parents who grew up in the city often fear for their children’s safety every time they walk out the door — sometimes worrying about the police.

“People across the country think Columbus is a great place to live, but if you go to these other neighborhoods, they’ll tell you that they’re suffering, that they’re being terrorized,” said Sean Walton, a lawyer who has represented the families of people killed by police officers in Columbus, including Ms. Hood. “There are these two tiers, and one is thriving while the other is suffering in ways that are a matter of life and death.”

That dichotomy has played out several times over the past year. In December, Andre Hill, a Black man, was standing in his garage when two officers approached. Earlier in the evening, a neighbor had called and complained about a suspicious vehicle. When two officers pulled up to the scene, they walked toward the garage and shined their flashlights inside.

Mr. Hill turned and walked slowly toward them, but an officer, Adam Coy, opened fire within seconds, killing him.

No weapon was recovered at the scene, and Mr. Coy was fired and charged with felony murder.

Several weeks before that, about seven miles north of downtown, Casey Goodson Jr. had stopped for sandwiches for his family on the way home from the dentist. Mr. Goodson, a 23-year-old Black man, parked and walked to the house. He had just slipped his key in the door when he was shot six times.

Deputy Jason Meade of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said that he and other deputies had seen Mr. Goodson waving a gun at them from his car and that he had not responded to verbal commands at his front door. His family said Mr. Goodson was listening to music on his earphones and might not have heard the warnings or recognized the plainclothes officers as deputies. The coroner later confirmed that Mr. Goodson had been shot in the back.

Mr. Goodson held a concealed weapon license and a gun was recovered from the scene. The authorities have declined to say if the gun was in his hand, his pocket or his car.

Ms. Hood, whose son, Henry Green V, took on a fatherly role in the family after his parents divorced, said she saw the latest police shootings as a continuation of a disturbing legacy in her home city. She pointed to a Justice Department investigation in 1999 that found that Columbus police officers had a history of excessive force and false arrests and that the victims of more than 300 misconduct complaints examined were “frequently” Black, or else young, female or low-income white people.

More than 20 years later, Ms. Hood said, Black residents still worry about unfair treatment. Hearing about the most recent deaths, of Mr. Goodson, Mr. Hill and Ms. Bryant, she said, “has been heart-wrenching.”

In the wake of the policing protests that rocked the city last year, over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and other cases in Columbus, so many police misconduct complaints had been filed that the City Council designated a special prosecutor and spent more than $ 600,000 for a law firm to investigate the allegations. The former police chief, Thomas Quinlan, sometimes marched with protesters.

The police changed their policy on pepper spray and body cameras in June, saying they would no longer spray nonviolent crowds, and in September ordered that traffic vests go over riot gear so body cameras could be attached to them.

In November, a ballot initiative to create a Civilian Police Review Board passed in a landslide, 74 percent to 26 percent.

But the latest high-profile killings have soured improving relations. In January, Chief Quinlan, a 30-year veteran of the force, was demoted back to a deputy chief. “Columbus residents have lost faith in him and in the division’s ability to change on its own,” Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a statement.

The Columbus Division of Police did not respond to a request for comment, though the department was quick to release body camera footage, 911 calls and other detailed information about the officers’ fatal encounter with Ms. Bryant.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Michael Woods, the interim chief. “There’s no other way to say it. It’s a 16-year-old girl.”

During a news conference on the case on Wednesday, Mayor Ginther said the city also faced a “bigger societal question.”

“How do we as a city and a community come together to ensure that our kids never feel the need to resort to violence as a means of solving disputes, or in order to protect themselves?” he said.

Many of them have happened in neighborhoods like Ms. Bryant’s, where residents say the spike in shootings has been met with aggression from police officers struggling to contain the violence.

At Brother’s Finest Barbershop near the North Linden neighborhood, one that has been particularly hard-hit by gun violence, suspicion of the police runs deep. The barbershop is less than a mile from where Mr. Goodson was killed last year.

One of the barbers working on Thursday, Javontae Robinson, 27, said the police have done little to build the personal relationships that were key to winning the trust of residents.

“They need better training and better education,” Mr. Robinson said. “They need to be around the Black community more, come to our block parties and barbecues and get familiar with the community.”

“Things won’t get better until they do that,” he said.

2 dead, at least 8 injured in Virginia Beach oceanfront shootings, police say

2 dead, at least 8 injured in Virginia Beach oceanfront shootings, police say
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Two people are dead and at least eight people were injured in shootings along Virginia Beach’s oceanfront, police said early Saturday.An estimated eight people were shot around 11 p.m. Friday, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate told reporters.

While officers were investigating, a report of shots fired came in nearby, the chief said. An officer confronted an individual there and a shooting broke out. The officer shot the individual, and the person died. The officer was not shot.A second person, who Neudigate said was possibly involved in an unrelated shooting, was pronounced dead near the scene. The chief called it “a separate shooting incident that we’re still trying to piece together.”

An officer was also struck by a vehicle during the investigation and taken to a hospital. The officer’s injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

“We have a very chaotic incident, a very chaotic night,” Neudigate said.Several people were in custody but their possible involvement in the shootings was still under investigation. Multiple roads were blocked off while police worked in the area.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

AP

Virginia Beach Shootings Leave at Least 2 Dead

Virginia Beach Shootings Leave at Least 2 Dead

At least 10 people were shot and two killed in a “chaotic” night of violence in Virginia Beach, the police said early Saturday morning.

The city’s police chief, Paul Neudigate[1], told reporters that eight people appeared to have been shot during a single incident late on Friday night.

While officers were responding to that shooting, shots were fired elsewhere in the city, and a person was shot by a uniformed police officer, Chief Neudigate said[2]. That person later died.

A second person was fatally shot in an incident that appeared to be unrelated to the other two, the chief said. He added that a police officer had been struck by a car and taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

“What you can see is that we have a very chaotic incident, a very chaotic night in the beach,” Chief Neudigate said. “Many different crime scenes.”

Several people were in custody, but it was unclear whether they had been involved in the violence, he said.

In a Twitter post just after 1 a.m. on Saturday, the department said[3] that it was investigating a shooting in which several victims had “possibly life-threatening injuries,” and that there was a large police presence along a section of the city’s oceanfront. “Please avoid the area at this time,” it said.

A person who answered the phone at the department said that no one was available to comment.

Virginia Beach was the site of a mass shooting in May 2019, when a longtime public utilities employee opened fire on his co-workers with a handgun. He killed 12 people and injured several others[4], and he died after an extended shootout with the police.

Mike Baker contributed reporting.

References

  1. ^ Paul Neudigate (www.vbgov.com)
  2. ^ Chief Neudigate said (www.youtube.com)
  3. ^ said (twitter.com)
  4. ^ He killed 12 people and injured several others (www.nytimes.com)

Mike Ives

After Atlanta and Colorado mass shootings, Texas GOP leaders double down on protecting gun owners

After Atlanta and Colorado mass shootings, Texas GOP leaders double down on protecting gun owners

Texas’ Republican leaders are responding to the recent back-to-back mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado with commitments to protect gun ownership in the state.

They’re doubling down against President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats who are pushing for stronger gun laws, including an assault weapons ban, after eight people were killed in Atlanta last week and 10 more in Boulder this week.

“They are gonna come to get your guns,” said Gov. Greg Abbott[1], speaking at a Texas Young Republicans dinner in the Austin area on Tuesday evening, just a day after a gunman went on a rampage in a Colorado grocery store.

The renewed commitment from GOP leaders to protect gun owners comes as the first Texas legislative session is underway since 2019’s mass shootings[2] in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, where a total of 30 people were killed and 50 more were injured. After the 2019 massacres, Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick[3] struck a softer tone regarding gun control legislation[4], hinting at potential common ground with Democrats as they raised concerns about state laws allowing private gun sales between strangers without background checks.

At the dinner, Abbott said there is an even greater urgency this legislative session to pass laws expanding gun rights because of Biden’s presidency.

“Yes, what Beto said turned out to be true,” Abbott said, in a reference to the former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s comment during his bid for president that, “Hell, yes,”[5] he wanted to take away people’s AR-15s and AK-47s.

“All I’ve gotta say to Beto is, ‘Hell no, Beto, you’re not gonna come get our guns in the Lone Star State,'” Abbott said.

The political winds have completely shifted since the Texas shootings, and Democrats now control Congress and the Oval Office. Biden, a longtime supporter of gun control laws, reinvigorated the decadeslong battle surrounding federal gun laws this week when he called for an assault weapons ban and stronger background checks for gun purchases.

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue,” Biden said Tuesday. “We have to act.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz[6] was quick to push back on Democrats.

“Every time there is a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. His comments quickly drew criticism from prominent gun control advocates.

“After sixteen people were killed in a hot air balloon in Lockhart, Texas, Ted Cruz authored and passed federal legislation improving safety rules,” tweeted Shannon Watts[7], founder of Moms Demand Action. “I guess that’s not because laws don’t work, but because there’s no hot air balloon lobby funding his Senate seat.”

Cruz’s spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday, “It is clear from their rhetoric Democrats aren’t interested in actual solutions. They just want to take guns away from law abiding citizens while making Americans less safe.”

State Rep. César Blanco[8], D-El Paso, who has advocated for stronger gun laws in the state after the massacre at a Walmart in his city, fired back at Cruz.

“I quite frankly don’t need to hear anything from Sen. Cruz. He has said enough. I think his actions or inaction speak louder than words,” Blanco said in an interview. “He chalked it up to theater when people are looking for real solutions to save lives. I think that hurts people.”

Texas Republican lawmakers have been key opponents of attempts to revive a federal ban on assault weapons that was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Cruz led the fight against an effort to reintroduce an assault weapons ban in 2012 following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Critics point to studies that say the original ban had little effect on overall criminal activity and firearm homicides. However, gun control advocates say there is evidence that suggests the legislation was successful at decreasing the number of mass shootings in the nation.[9][10]

Now Abbott and GOP state lawmakers are laying a groundwork to block Texas from federal gun regulation through legislation that could make Texas a “Second Amendment sanctuary state,” prohibiting state agencies and local governments from enforcing new federal gun laws or rules.

“We need to erect a complete barrier against any government official anywhere from treading on gun rights in Texas,” Abbott said during his annual State of the State address in February.

Abbott did not respond to a request for comment.

Dozens of gun measures[11] have been filed on both sides of the aisle this year, including a slate of bills by El Paso’s statehouse delegation aimed at preventing future mass shootings by restricting assault weapons and keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them, among other changes.

As of Wednesday, none of the at least seven “Second Amendment sanctuary state” bills had been scheduled for a committee hearing.

Other proposals would make it easier for Texans to carry guns. On Thursday in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, lawmakers will consider a group of controversial bills that would allow Texans to carry handguns — openly or concealed — without a permit.

Despite growing support in recent years from both Republican and Democrat voters for stricter gun control measures, state and federal lawmakers remain split along party lines.

In the February 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll[12], 61% of Texans strongly supported background checks on all gun purchases, while only 15% either somewhat or strongly opposed such a measure. Texas Democrats were the most supportive, with 91% of those polled saying they strongly or somewhat supported the measures, along with 68% of Republicans.

That Texas would consider loosening gun laws in light of the recent shootings is “disturbing,” “insensitive and operates in its own reality,” said Ed Scruggs, spokesperson and board member for Texas Gun Sense, a group that advocates for gun control.

“But then again, I’m not really surprised, because that seems to be what our Legislature does in times of gun violence,” Scruggs said.

Meanwhile, gun rights groups are applauding Abbott’s efforts to defend Texas from what they see as federal attacks on gun ownership and possession.

“The Biden administration has declared war on the entire law-abiding shooting community,” said Andi Turner, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association. “I am very proud of our governor and the steps he is taking to protect law-abiding gun owners.”

Blanco said he’s optimistic this session that lawmakers can pass stricter gun rules, especially with support from federal leaders and growing bipartisan support from voters.

“It’s important for our community to let folks know that communities like El Paso and Boulder and others that we’ve not forgotten about these tragedies and that we’re actively working towards solutions,” he said.

For state lawmakers from El Paso, Blanco said the shootings hit close to home.

“Every time I see another mass shooting my heart breaks, and I can’t help recall all the feelings of the deep sadness and the frustration and the confusion that I felt and my fellow El Pasoans felt,” Blanco said. “Atlanta and Boulder are feeling the same thing.”

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.

References

  1. ^ Greg Abbott (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ 2019’s mass shootings (apps.texastribune.org)
  3. ^ Dan Patrick (www.texastribune.org)
  4. ^ struck a softer tone regarding gun control legislation (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ “Hell, yes,” (www.texastribune.org)
  6. ^ Ted Cruz (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ tweeted Shannon Watts (twitter.com)
  8. ^ César Blanco (www.texastribune.org)
  9. ^ had little effect on overall criminal activity and firearm homicides (jamanetwork.com)
  10. ^ successful at decreasing the number of mass shootings in the nation. (journals.lww.com)
  11. ^ Dozens of gun measures (www.texastribune.org)
  12. ^ February 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll (www.texastribune.org)

Sami Sparber and Reese Oxner