Tarrant and Harris counties urge Governor Abbott to call special session on gun policy reform

Tarrant County and Harris County Commissioners’ Courts passed resolutions this week urging Governor Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to “protect our children from mass shootings.”

The resolutions arrive in stride gruesome murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde in a school at the end of May.

Section 3 of the Texas Constitution requires that a special legislative session can only be called in Texas by the governor and be limited to the topics named in the call.

The Tarrant County resolution, requested by Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks (D-Precinct 1), cites the Uvalde shooting and states that the Texas Legislature “can take action to protect our children from the scourge of gun violence in implementing common sense reforms that have been debated but not implemented.

Brooks introduced the resolution saying parents, teachers and children need relief that only lawmakers can provide.

“It’s not something that can wait,” Brooks stressed. “We have to deal with it now.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Rodney Ellis (D-Pct. 1) held a press conference Tuesday morning to highlight a similar resolution from Ellis, noting that members of the Texas legislature had called at a special session to consider a list of new firearms regulations, including raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, universal background checks, implementation of laws on the red flag, the requirement for a cooling off period for the purchase and regulation of large capacity magazines.

Hidalgo told reporters that the second leading cause of pediatric death in Harris County was ‘firearms’ and said, ‘If Governor Abbott can call three special sessions to make it harder for people to vote, he can surely call a special session to prevent our children from being slaughtered in schools.

Ellis added, “Why should we have more guns in America than anywhere else in the world owned by individual citizens?”

Abbott called for the creation of special legislative commissions to conduct investigative hearings into the tragedy. Committees should cover school safety, mental health, social media, police training and gun safety. Hearings have started June 9.

Two Tarrant County residents spoke in favor of the resolution.

Cherry Lankford, a retired teacher, blamed Abbott for “making it easy” for Uvalde’s killer to buy “an assault rifle”.

Uvalde’s shooter used an AR-15 style musket. Many mistakenly assume that “AR” stands for “Assault Rifle”, when in fact it stands for “Arma-Lite Rifle”, named after the company that originally designed it.

Lankford went on to say that Abbott cannot consider himself “pro-life until he is prepared to protect the lives of all of God’s children.”

Mary Goodman also supported the resolution, saying she would like to ban the sale of AR-15 type rifles and that no one needs “access to weapons of war”.

According to National Shooting Sports Foundation, the AR-15 is not an “assault weapon” because it is not fully automatic like a machine gun. Although it can often resemble a machine gun in appearance, the AR-15 style weapon “shoots[s] a single shot with each pull of the trigger.

While Tarrant County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution, Harris County Commissioners Tom Ramsey (R-Pct. 3) and Jack Cagle (R-Pct. 4) opposed specific remedies for Ellis and voted against the resolution while Hidalgo, Ellis and Commissioner Adrian Garcia (D-Pct. 2) voted to approve.

Ramsey also noted that a suspect on multiple bonds allegedly murdered a 9 year old girl in the Houston area the previous night and questioned why the Court of Commissioners had not called a special session on the rising crime rate in the county.

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