This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bipartisan group of more than a dozen mayors representing the biggest cities in Texas are calling for the governor to bring back lawmakers to enact specific gun reforms and increase mental health resources.
The leaders of 13 Texas cities, including Austin, signed onto a letter Tuesday that they sent to Gov. Greg Abbott demanding a special legislative session after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde.
“We represent a continuum of political ideology and have come together because we know most Texans have a strong desire for common sense reform to protect our children,” the letter stated. “As mayors, we believe the legislature and executive leaders can come together to find the right solutions for Texas.”
The mayors said they would like Abbott to include the following five proposals in the agenda:
- Require background checks for gun purchases.
- Increase the age to buy assault weapons to 21.
- Pass red flag laws to identify threats before shootings.
- Significant increase in mental health support funding.
- Train and properly resource school safety officers.
So far Abbott has rejected other calls to convene a special session following the deadly Uvalde shooting. However, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan fulfilled his requests to create special committees to look into what happened and recommend policy to consider during next year’s legislative session.
The Texas Senate’s select committee met for the first time Tuesday, and members got to question Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, about law enforcement’s delayed response to the shooting. McCraw shared in his testimony how the first officers arrived three minutes after the gunman went into school on May 24 and argued they could have taken him out then. However, he said the officers waited more than an hour to finally go into the classrooms where the shooter remained even though he said those doors were not locked as originally stated.
The proposals floated by the mayors in their letter mirrored what members of the Texas Senate Democrats laid out Monday in a news conference. They also demanded the governor hold a special session.
Renae Eze, the governor’s press secretary, responded to the Democrats’ call for a special session. In a statement, she said, “As Governor Abbott has said from day one, all options remain on the table as he continues working with state and local leaders to prevent future tragedies and deploy all available resources to support the Uvalde community as they heal. More announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks to protect Texas communities as the legislature deliberates proposed solutions.”
The mayors who signed onto the letter included Ginger Nelson of Amarillo, Jim Ross of Arlington, Steve Adler of Austin, Paulette Guajardo of Corpus Christi, Eric Johnson of Dallas, Oscar Leeser of El Paso, Mattie Parker of Fort Worth, Ron Jensen of Grand Prairie, Sylvester Turner of Houston, Pete Saenz of Laredo, John Muns of Plano, Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio and Joe Zimmerman of Sugar Land.
“Protecting the 2nd Amendment means passing responsible policies that a wide majority of law-abiding gun owners support,” the mayors’ letter read. “We cannot stand idly by while more of our fellow Texans, often our children and law enforcement officers, are laid to rest as the result of another preventable shooting. Action is the only thing that will save more lives.”