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Gun Safety Laws

Press release

Press Release November 6, 2017

US and Texas fliags at half mast League of Women Voters of Texas: Texas Needs Gun Safety Laws Now!

Austin, Texas - As of this writing, at least 26 people were killed and 20 more injured by a lone gunman who shot the congregation at a small church in Sutherland Springs, TX. This is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern Texas history. While we are still learning the facts of what happened, the League of Women Voters of Texas mourns the loss of life of so many innocent people in Sutherland Springs.

Think about that for a minute; only in America is the phrase "yet another mass shooting" part of the national conversation.

The response of our elected officials with messages of "thoughts and prayers" is insufficient. The victims were at a church where people pray. We do not elect our government officials for thoughts and prayers. We elect them to make law. We cannot continue to allow easy access to weapons of war in our country. When shooters are able to equip themselves with weapons of war there is no limit to the carnage that can occur.

Recent reports indicate that the shooter had a history of domestic violence. The alleged shooter was court-martialed in 2012 for "assault on his spouse and child", spent a year in a military prison and was given a reduction in rank. In 2014, the alleged shooter received a bad conduct discharge from the United States Air Force. These factors should make it harder for individuals to possess firearms.

Texas law does not require the surrender of firearms or ammunition by domestic abusers who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal or state law; or explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

The League of Women Voters of Texas supported HB 863, authored by Representative Joe Moody during the 95th legislative session. This legislation would have given judges the authority to issue a temporary Lethal Violence Protective Order (LVPO) if law enforcement or direct family members could prove with sufficient evidence that an individual is an immediate danger to themselves or others. At this time, we do not know if there was any indication that the shooter was a danger to themselves or others. Anyone subject to a LVPO would be required to turn over any firearms to law enforcement, and their ability to purchase or possess a firearm would be suspended for a year, or less. Similar legislation has already been proven to help save lives in other states. The bill died in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Senator Josť Rodriguez' companion bill, SB 434 was assigned to the Texas Senate's State Affairs Committee chaired by Senator Joan Huffman - yet never received a hearing.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were a total of 3492 trauma hospitalizations with an injury due to firearm in 2014. The hospital charges for firearm injuries ranged from $54 + $5,618,050 per hospitalization. Only 770 (22%) of those injuries were unintentional.

Thoughts and prayers won't keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers or someone who could be a threat to themselves or others. The 2018 primary is just around the corner. The League urges Texans to make their voices heard.

The filing dates for primary candidates that are regularly scheduled to be on the primary ballot are Saturday, November 11 - Monday, December 11 at 6:00 pm. Get familiar with your candidates. Learn their positions on gun safety. Check their voting records if they are incumbents. Finally and most importantly: get out and VOTE! For Information Contact: Aileen McMurrer at 512-472-1100.

The League of Women Voters of Texas The League of Women Voters of Texas represents over 5,000 grassroots advocates across the State of Texas. The Texas League has been "educating and agitating" since 1919. The League is a nonpartisan organization - it does not support or oppose any candidates or parties. Instead, the League encourages active and informed civic participation in government and increased understanding of major public policy issues. The League of Women Voters' non-partisan Voters Guide is highly respected and sought after by voters in local and statewide elections in Texas. Support League Advocacy