AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County leaders plan to host a gun violence summit after 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed three hours from the Texas capital in Uvalde, Texas. The summit will put survivors of gun violence, law enforcement and violence intervention experts before lawmakers.
“We’ve been talking about how to prevent gun violence in Travis County for a while and obviously the events of this week just underscored the need for for this discussion,” Judge Andy Brown said.
Brown, Travis County District Attorney José Garza and Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter will host the summit, according to a release. Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Attorney Delia Garzia, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon will also be in attendance.
“The fact that we have firearms that are being used in so many of these incidents and so many crimes is completely unacceptable,” Chacon said Wednesday after police shot and killed a man in Austin who they say got out of his truck and began firing at officers. It’s the fourth officer-involved shooting that’s happened so far this year in our city.
In a release for the summit, the District Attorney’s office noted a gun violence reduction plan the office introduced last year. That plan aimed to address the following:
- Use “both traditional and innovative” prosecution after someone is charged with a gun crime
- Focus on intervention and prevention programs
- Take guns out of the hands of those who are likely to commit an act of gun violence in a partner relationship
- Support programming to help survivors and families of victims of gun violence
The release about the summit also name dropped Austin’s Office of Violence Prevention, which has been around for roughly a year.
Meanwhile, researchers gathered in Dallas Wednesday to announce the undertaking of a new study that would look at how access to gun ownership in an abusive relationship impacts victims of those relationships.
The Texas Council on Family Violence says their data points to an increase in domestic violence homicides in Texas over the past few years. They say nearly 70% of those victims were killed with a firearm in 2020.
“We know there is a link between mass gun violence and family violence,” shared TCFV in a statement regarding the tragedy in Uvalde. “We know that most mass shootings, just as this shooting in Uvalde, grow from a history of family violence. We know the risk of family violence homicide increases 500% with the presence of firearms.”
The Travis County summit will take place on June 8.
Brown said part of that conversation will be about repeat offenders, people who have been charged with gun crimes before. Brown also acknowledged there’s only so much that can be done at the local level, and that they’ll lean on state legislators to make broader changes.
“I’ve got two kids, one in elementary school, one in preschool, seven and a five year old,” Brown said. “When my wife and I take them to school every day, especially now, after what happened this week, it makes me sad, it makes me horrified that other parents have suffered in that way.,” Brown said. “It is beyond time to act on it.”