Texas Democrats Urge Gov. Abbott to Call Emergency Session on Gun Violence

click to enlarge Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer speaks during a new conference Wednesday in San Antonio. - Rhyma Casttillo
Rhyma Casttillo
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer speaks during a new conference Wednesday in San Antonio.
On Wednesday, 63 members of Texas' House Democratic Caucus urged Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency session of the legislature to address gun violence.

“It is time to act,” said State Sen. José Menéndez during a morning news conference in San Antonio. “Thoughts and prayers won’t help our citizens.”

Democratic lawmakers held separate press conferences in Texas' largest cities to discuss a letter they sent to Abbott, a Republican, requesting he initiate the special session.

In the past two months, Texans have been subjected to some of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings. Earlier this month, 22 people were slain in an El Paso Walmart, while seven died last weekend in Odessa. In light of the shootings, members of the HDC called on fellow lawmakers to pass stricter firearms regulations.

The HDC's proposed plan consists of five elements: enacting risk protective order laws, closing background check loopholes, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines, limiting the open carry of certain semi-automatic long guns and requiring stolen guns to be reported to law enforcement.

Although Texas Democrats have pushed for “common-sense” gun safety laws for years, little to no action has been taken by the Republican-controlled legislature. Growing concern about racially motivated violence such as the El Paso Walmart shooting further galvanized the caucus into calling for an emergency session.

“When someone says they’re going to hurt people based on the color of their skin something needs to be done,” Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said during the San Antonio news conference.

In its letter to Gov. Abbott, the HDC also urged the legislature to pass measures that would combat the rise in racism and white nationalism.

“We’ve got to stop every time we hear an elected official fan the flames of race-baiting,” Menéndez said. “When they’re calling [immigrants] criminals, or rapists, or drug-dealers. ... We’ve got to say, ya basta.”

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