AUSTIN (KXAN) — City and county officials are working together on an initiative to create a uniform gun surrender program in Austin and Travis County.
Currently, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has one in place, but it doesn’t go into effect until a suspect has their first appearance in county court.
“There are gaps right now when a person is taken before a [municipal] judge and has bail set. Often times, that means a person is released from custody, and it’s weeks before that case is back in our office,” said District Attorney Jose Garza. “And there are no protocols in the intervening time to ensure that person who may pose a threat to our public safety does not have access to firearms.”
Garza added it can sometimes take weeks between an arrest and a county court appearance.
The goal now is to create a uniform protocol across all law enforcement and justice agencies to mandate suspects arrested for certain crimes surrender their firearms at the point of arrest. That would ensure defendants would not have access to their guns if they post bail.
“They’re just out and nobody’s done anything about their access or possession of firearms,” said Krista Del Gallo with the Texas Council on Family Violence. “We recognize this person is a dangerous violent person.”
The Austin City Council secured a $500,000 grant to create the new policy. Mayor Pro-Tem Alison Alter said the money will go towards the time, staff and resources needed to draft the plan and put it in place.
“This is so when there’s a situation where we need to have a firearm surrendered, we have clarity on that process and procedure,” Alter said. “So that happens more quickly and more regularly, and no one is falling through the cracks.”