Democrats call for special session to tackle gun violence

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A growing number of Democratic lawmakers, led by state Rep. Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio, are calling for a special legislative session in Texas to address gun violence. 

“A part-time Legislature that only meets for 5 months every other year must step up [between] sessions when the safety of its people demands it,” wrote Rep. Donna Howard of Austin on Twitter. “This qualifies,” she said, referring to the El Paso terrorist attack that killed 22 people earlier this month.

In an ABC 7 interview, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pushed backed against those calls, arguing that during an election year things would be too “political” for an early legislative session. “It’s up to the governor, but I think it’s just too political to do a special session in the middle of all this,” Patrick said. 

Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott continue to push the narrative that mental illness, not guns themselves, is what needs to be addressed in the wake of the mass murder in El Paso. Public health experts blame white terrorism, not mental health. 

Instead, Patrick suggests lawmakers participate in the upcoming roundtable discussions– a strategy Texas GOP leadership used after the Santa Fe High shooting, but ultimately resulted in no legislation that directly deals with guns. 

Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have also called for a special session to address gun violence.

“In February, the new Democratic House Majority promptly did its duty and passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which is supported by more than 90 percent of the American people,” Democratic leaders said in a statement. “However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation. It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass this legislation immediately.”

Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

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