AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN’s Monica Madden moderated a gun violence discussion Sunday afternoon amid ongoing discussions surrounding gun safety statewide and nationally. The conversation comes on the one-year anniversary of the fatal Sixth Street mass shooting that killed one and injured 14, as well as nearly three weeks after the deadly mass school shooting in Uvalde.
Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in south Austin, will lead the conversation at his business. The panel included family members of Doug Kantor, who died in the Sixth Street mass shooting; State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin); former Texas Land Commissioner and state senator Jerry Patterson; Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly; Leesa Ross, safe gun storage advocate; Andrea Brauer, gun violence prevention advocate; and Edwin Walker, an attorney with the Texas US Law Shield.
Watch the full town hall:
One year since the Sixth Street shooting & recent mass shooting in Uvalde
The Kantor family reflects on the one-year anniversary of Doug Kantor’s death, after being killed in a shooting in downtown Austin on Sixth Street.
“It’s been a very difficult year,” Nick Kantor, Doug’s brother said. “And it’s even more saddening to know that 98 other people lost their lives in the same block that my brother was killed, which tells me that this wasn’t a one off fluke accident. That this is a problem that is going to keep happening.”
Policy changes: federal, state & city
Several panelists weigh in on changes after Austin’s mass shooting and the bipartisan deal a group of U.S. senators — which Sen. John Cornyn helped lead — reached Sunday on school safety and gun reform, in response to the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings.
The mental health conversation
In the legislative year following a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas and at a Walmart in El Paso, state lawmakers passed more than a dozen laws, many of which aimed at addressing mental health in Texas.
Andrea Brauer points out that mental health illnesses are not indicators for committing acts of violence.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, less than 10 percent of shootings nationwide involve a suspect who has a mental illness.
“One in five people in this country have a mental illness. Most of those people are not violent people and do not commit these acts,” Brauer said. “The problem is when somebody that has a mental illness or has suicidal intent, or intent to harm others has easy access to a firearm. That’s when these things happen.
“There’s obviously the issue of mental health,” Walker said. “But whenever you’re dealing with the criminal law, obviously, there are individuals out there that just have this evil intent…And so I think a lot of people before they start talking about this, they need to explore the Texas penal code and see what crimes already exist that cover the circumstances.”
Red flag laws
While the Senate’s initial proposed package doesn’t include “red flag” laws federally, the agreement would incentivize states to pass such. The deal would offer money to states to enact such laws, which would make it easier to temporarily take guns from people considered potentially violent. It would also give funds to bolster school safety and mental health programs.
Social media: who should monitor it, and what to do with that information
Closing remarks: priority legislation and compromise
In closing, each panelist had different legislative items or societal changes they hope to see. One recurring common agreement almost everyone agreed on was having safe gun-storage laws. Right now, Texas does not specifically have requirements for how owners store firearms and ammunition safely, expect for when it comes to preventing access to children.