Special House Committee on Preventing Mass Violence Holds First Meeting

The House Select Committee on Mass Violence and Community safety met Tuesday in Austin.

Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen appointed members to this committee, that was formed in response to the Mass shootings in El Paso, Midland, and Odessa. They will recommend legislative solutions to help prevent mass violence and improve community safety in Texas, according to a statement from the Speaker when the committee was formed.

The official release on the formation of the committee says the committee is directed to:

• Evaluate options for strengthening enforcement measures for current laws that prevent the transfer of firearms to felons and other persons prohibited by current law from possessing firearms;

• Assess challenges to the timely reporting of relevant criminal history information and other threat indicators to state and federal databases;

• Examine the role of digital media and technology in threat detection, assessment, reporting, and prevention, including the collaboration between digital media and law enforcement;

• Consider the ongoing and long-term workforce needs of the state related to cybersecurity, mental health, law enforcement, and related professionals; and

• Evaluate current protocols and extreme risk indicators used to identify potential threats and consider options for improving the dissemination of information between federal, state, and local entities and timely and appropriate intervention of mental health professionals.

During Tuesday’s meeting, there was a lot of focus on how information is shared between agencies. This was the first hearings at the Capitol; there will be others throughout the state, including in North Texas.

"It is integral to this process. While this is where laws are written and passed, it is the people back home, it is their wisdom, it is their urgency, their passion, that is going to fuel this conversation. And so it is more important than ever to get out of this building, into the communities like mine, to Odessa, and talk about ways that we can change the law to save lives and make our state much safer," said Texas Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso).

Lawmakers talked about the important of working together.

"I think, in talking with some of my colleagues, we know that what's been done in the past hasn't worked. You know, if one side retreats to its foxhole and another side retreats to theirs, then you never have that conversation. And then by not having that conversation, you really limit your abilities to have creative solutions, you know things that aren’t going to infringe on the second amendment, but common sense solutions that just make it more difficult for shooters to, you know, commit crimes against people. So, there is a healthy balance there, but by having a conversation , I think we can find it," said Texas Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa).

There is a Senate select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety.  That committee will meet next week.

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