Democratic politicians, advocacy groups ask for stricter firearms laws in Texas

Texas gun control advocates are asking for stricter state firearms laws.

Several Democratic elected officials joined in a virtual discussion on gun violence prevention and talked about what they describe as "common sense, evidence-based bills" that are under consideration in the state legislature.

Criminal background checks for all gun sales in Texas is atop their wish list, along with red flag laws which would allow a person to temporarily have guns taken from them by a judge if family expressed concern about their mental state.

"Every time I see another mass shooting my heart breaks," said St. Sen. Cesar Blanco (D- El Paso).

Atlanta and Boulder have been the scenes of the nation's last two mass shootings in the just the past 14 days. Blanco’s hometown experienced the Walmart mass shooting in august 2019. 

Blanco and other Democratic lawmakers joined with gun safety groups hoping to get what they call common sense gun laws passed.

"The U.T.-Texas Tribune poll that recently came out that show nearly 80 percent of Texans support background checks on all gun sales," said Jon Brandt, Board President, Texas Gun Sense.

Texas law does not require background checks on guns sold at shows or between private citizens.

"But we don’t want those same protections for people who purchases a gun at a gun show or a private sale on the internet. That’s ridiculous. I mean it makes no… it makes no freaking sense," said State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D - Missouri City).

"This seemed to be something that even Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick agreed on in the days following the El Paso shooting," said St. Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D – Austin).   

A month after the El Paso shooting, as Texas leaders held discussions across the state, the lieutenant governor spoke about stranger to stranger sales.

"Ten percent to 15 percent of all guns bought in this country are bought stranger to stranger. They don’t know who they're selling to -- could be a felon, could be someone getting ready to rob a bank or someone getting ready to commit a mass act of violence and we have to stop the stranger to stranger sales," Patrick said in September 2019.

Democrats aren't hopeful, though.

"There's been no report, there's been no initiative by the people... the leadership that created that interim study," said St. Sen. John Whitmire (D – Houston)

So-called red flag laws designed for a court to restrict access to guns if a family member shows concern has not been supported by Gov. Abbott.

"The shooter in El Paso had presented no red flags at all that would have triggered any type of mechanism that would have prevented him from being able to get a gun in the first place and so when you start talking about passing laws, it’s important that you have laws that are going to prevent the crimes that you're trying to prevent," Abbott said after the shooting.

In addition to universal background checks, the gun safety groups want a safe storage law that would require firearms be stored with a locking device in place.