Members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency session of the 86th Legislature to address gun violence through new gun and public safety legislation, but Abbott is resisting those calls.
The HDC sent a letter to the governor's office Wednesday urging Abbott to take action, not only because of the threat of mass shootings but because of the 3,000 people killed each year in Texas by gun violence.
"That horrifying statistic alone should prompt us to take action," the Democrats wrote.
Along with the letter, the HDC attached a list of bills authored but not passed during the 86th Regular Session for the governor's consideration. The Democrats asked that the following items be placed on the call.
- Enacting extreme risk protective order laws and closing existing loopholes in current protective order laws
- Closing the background check loopholes
- Banning the sale of high-capacity magazines
- Limiting the open carry of certain semi-automatic long guns
- Requiring stolen guns be reported to law enforcement
"Additionally, given that the assailant in the El Paso shooting was driven by racial hatred and due to the ongoing potential for racially-driven violence, we request that you ask the Legislature to pass measures to combat and interrupt the rise in racism and white nationalism," the Democrats wrote. "We believe these proposals will save lives and we are all prepared to do whatever it takes to pass these reforms."
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House Democrats were at five press conferences across the state Wednesday, including in Dallas, to talk about the call for a special session.
"If we have a governor that is willing to call an emergency session, emergency items and special sessions on things like the bathroom bill, he sure as hell should be calling it on mass murder in this state," Anchia said.
Abbott's press secretary John Wittman released the following statement Wednesday.
Governor Abbott made clear in Odessa that all strategies are on the table that will lead to laws that make Texans safer. But that doesn't include a helter skelter approach that hastily calls for perfunctory votes that divide legislators along party lines. Instead, the governor seeks consensus rather than division. The Democrats who are part of today's partisan pitch can be part of the bi-partisan legislative process announced yesterday that is geared toward achieving real solutions, or they can be part of politics as usual that will accomplish nothing. Legislating on tough issues is hard and takes time. If Democrats really want to change the law, they need to stop talking to cameras and start talking to colleagues in the capitol to reach consensus."
Democratic House Caucus Chair Chris Turner called the statement disappointing.
"We put forth a letter to the governor this morning asking him to work with us on a bipartisan basis, to make a difference in protecting Texans' lives," Turner said.
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Wednesday the appointment of 13 members of the House to serve on the newly-formed Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety. They will study and recommend legislative soluitions to prevent mass violence.
Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) was appointed to the committee.
"We will get ideas from both the right, the left, and the middle, and we will come up with something that actually has a chance of passing a Republican-controlled House, a Republican-controlled Senate and will be signed by the governor, without making it overly partisan," Geren said.
The letter from the HDC to the governor was signed by 59 members including representatives Chris Turner (Dist. 101), Celia Israel (Dist. 50), Toni Rose (Dist. 110), Oscar Longoria (Dist. 35), Rafael Anchia (Dist. 103), Harold Dutton (Dist. 142), Garnet Coleman (Dist. 147), Alma Allen (Dist. 131), Michelle Beckley (Dist. 65), Diego Bernal (Dist. 123), Cesar Blanco (Dist. 76), Rhetta Bowers (Dist. 113), John Bucy (Dist. 136), Gina Calanni (Dist. 132), Sheryl Cole (Dist. 46), Nicole Collier (Dist. 95), Philip Cortez (Dist. 117), Joe Deshotel (Dist. 22), Alex Dominguez (Dist. 37), Jessica Farrar (Dist. 148), Art Fierro (Dist. 79), Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (Dist. 120), Jessica Gonzalez (Dist. 104), Mary E. Gonzalez (Dist. 75), Vikki Goodwin (Dist. 47), Bobby Guerra (Dist. 41), Roland Gutierrez (Dist. 119), Ana Hernandez (Dist. 143), Abel Herrero (Dist. 34), Gina Hinojosa (Dist. 49), Donna Howard (Dist. 48), Jarvis Johnson (Dist. 139), Julie Johnson (Dist. 115), Ray Lopez (Dist. 125), Eddie Lucio III (Dist. 38), Armando "Mando" Martinez (Dist. 39), Trey Martinez Fischer (Dist. 116), Terry Meza (Dist. 105), Ina Minjarez (Dist. 124), Joe Moody (Dist. 78), Christina Morales (Dist. 145), Victoria Neave (Dist. 107), Poncho Nevarez (Dist. 74), Evelina "Lina" Ortega (Dist. 77), Leo Pacheco (Dist. 118), Mary Ann Perez (Dist. 144), Ana-Maria Ramos (Dist. 102), Richard Pena Raymond (Dist. 42), Ron Reynolds (Dist. 27), Eddie Rodriguez (Dist. 51), Ramon Romero Jr (Dist. 90), Jon Rosenthal (Dist. 135), Carl Sherman Sr (Dist. 109), James Talarico (Dist. 52), Shawn Thierry (Dist. 146), Senfronia Thompson (Dist. 141), John Turner (Dist. 114), Hubert Vo (Dist. 149), Armando Walle (Dist. 140), Gene Wu (Dist. 137) and Erin Zwiener (Dist. 45).