Law enforcement

Texas Speaker Creates Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety

Newly-formed committee to file initial report in 90 days, speaker's office says

The office of Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced Wednesday the appointment of 13 members to the newly-formed Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety.

The speaker's office said the committe was formed in response to the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Midland and Odessa, "and will be tasked with studying and recommending effective legislative solutions and other measures to help prevent mass violence and improve community safety in Texas."

According to the speaker's office, "the House Select Committee has jurisdiction over all matters that ensure the safety of Texas communities by reducing mass violence, including collaboration between state and local agencies and nongovernmental entities in preventing and responding to mass violence, violence prevention strategies that foster safe climates in schools and local communities, state and local funding for research and program development, access to state and local services for communities impacted by mass violence and persons at risk for harming themselves or others, and technological solutions to better detect, assess, report, and prevent threats."

Specifically, the House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety 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.

Bonnen's announcement comes on the same day members of the House Democratic Caucus called on Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency session to address gun violence through new gun and public safety legislation.

"Words alone will not deliver the bold solutions Texas needs in order to defeat the violence that has become far too commonplace in our state," said Bonnen. "The Texas House is putting words into action by forming this committee, and it will be well-served by the range of backgrounds, skillsets, and expertise these particular members provide. While the charges before this committee will be no simple undertaking, their importance cannot be overstated. I am grateful for the service of each of these members and know their readiness to take on the challenging work before them will translate into thoughtful, life-saving solutions for the State of Texas."

Bonnen named the following House members to the committee: Chair Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Vice Chair Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass), César Blanco (D-El Paso), Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Barbara Gervins-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), Julie Johnson (D-Carrollton), Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa), Mike Lang (R-Granbury), Joe Moody (D-El Paso), Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Armando Walle (D-Houston).

The committee will have 90 days to submit a preliminary assessment and will then be asked to file periodic reports thereafter.

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