Texas legislature prepares for 2019 gun policy debate
The gun policy debate is once again taking center stage after 13 people were killed in a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Earlier this year, the gun control debate drove thousands of young people to register to vote following school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas. However, exit polls show gun policy wasn't what pushed most people to the polls this week.
The 2019 legislative session starts on January 8, 2019. Groups like Texas Gun Sense know exactly what their top priorities are. So-called "Red Flag Laws" are gaining momentum in other states but passing one in Texas would be a battle.
"We tell people we fight everyday so this doesn't happen again. It's very frustrating when it does," says Gyl Switzer, executive director for Texas Gun Sense.
Switzer says in 2019 the group will be pushing for Texas to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders -- also known as a Red Flag Law.
"It's for people who are exhibiting behaviors that show -- in the past, from the data -- that they could be suicidal or homicidal and a judge gets to decide if that person should be temporarily separated from their firearms," explains Switzer.
About a dozen states have such laws in place, but dozens more do not. Andy Hogue of the Travis County Republican Party says there's a reason more Red Flag Laws haven't passed.
"We have to look carefully at the issue, whether or not it does deny someone due process rights and whether or not it's a good way forward. Right now, the Republican Party does not think that's a good strategy," he explains.
Exit polls from the November 6 election show the top issue for people who voted was healthcare followed by immigration, the economy and then gun policy. Switzer says that's because healthcare directly impacts every single person, but she doesn't think gun policy should be far behind.
"Unfortunately, we're getting to the point where gun violence needs to matter... whether you're in a bar, a school, a synagogue, a church, etc." she says.
Texas Gun Sense says their other priority for the upcoming legislative session is establishing a public safe gun storage campaign. Their hope is for it to have the same support and recognition as campaigns like "Turn Around Don't Drown," "Click it or Ticket" and the anti-littering campaign, "Don't Mess with Texas."