Austin, TX — The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus sent the following letter to Governor Abbott:
Dear Governor Abbott:
The members of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus urge you to immediately call an emergency special session to address gun violence in Texas in the wake of this latest gut-wrenching tragedy. We demand that this special session include passage of legislation that would:
• Raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21;
• Require universal background checks for all firearm sales;
• Implement “red flag” laws to allow the temporary removal of firearms from those who are an imminent danger to themselves or others;
• Require a “cooling off” period for the purchase of a firearm; and
• Regulate civilian ownership of high capacity magazines.
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, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa. 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.
“Thoughts and prayers” are not enough. Lamenting the fact that “evil” walks among us is not enough. Laying the blame at the feet of a broken mental health care system—that you and other state leaders continue to underfund severely—is not enough. We need evidence-based, common sense gun safety laws. Without a doubt, if at least some of the measures noted above had been passed since 2018, then many lives could have been saved.
We must address the physical and mental health of our nation, and confront the public health issue at hand—gun violence. Guns should not be easier to access than health insurance, baby formula, voting, books and enlisting in the military. We are not trying to take away Second Amendment rights. Instead, we are asking for reasonable laws or restrictions that will create a safer Texas for all of us. Taking action requires bravery. The proposed solutions are not new. We cannot wait for another tragedy to occur. Texas has the power to protect its people; it is time we do so.
We ask you, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan to step up and join us in passing common sense gun safety measures that are supported by a vast majority of Texans and could help keep a gun out of the hands of the next would-be mass shooter.
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus represents urban and rural communities across the state, serving more than 12 million Texans. The 13 current members are Chair Carol Alvarado (Houston), Vice Chair Nathan Johnson (Dallas), John Whitmire (Houston), Judith Zaffirini (Laredo), Eddie Lucio, Jr. (Brownsville), Royce West (Dallas), Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (McAllen), José Menéndez (San Antonio), Borris Miles (Houston), Beverly Powell (Fort Worth), Sarah Eckhardt (Austin), Roland Gutierrez (San Antonio) and César Blanco (El Paso).