The resolutions come on the heels of the horrific killing of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde at a school at the end of May.
Article 3 of the Texas Constitution requires that a special legislative session can only be called in Texas by the governor and is limited to the subjects designated 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 by implementing common sense reforms that have been debated but not implemented.”
Brooks introduced the resolution by saying that parents, teachers, and children need relief that only legislators can provide.
“This is not something that can wait,” Brooks emphasized. “It needs to be addressed 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 for a special session to consider a list of new gun regulations including raising the minimum age for purchase of firearms to 21, mandating universal background checks, implementing red flag laws, requiring a cooling-off period for purchase, and regulation of high-capacity magazines.
Hidalgo told reporters that the second-leading cause of pediatric death in Harris County was due to “firearms,” and said, “If Governor Abbott can call three special sessions to make it harder for people to vote, surely he can call a special session to keep our kids from being massacred in schools.”
Ellis added, “Why should we have more guns in America than anywhere else in the world held by individual citizens?”
Abbott called for the creation of special legislative committees to conduct investigative hearings into the tragedy. The committees are to cover school safety, mental health, social media, police training, and firearm safety. Hearings began on June 9.
Two Tarrant County residents spoke in support of the resolution.
Cherry Lankford, a retired teacher, blamed Abbott for “making it abundantly easy” for the killer in Uvalde to purchase “an assault rifle.”
The Uvalde shooter used an AR-15-style rifle. Many incorrectly assume “AR” stands for “assault rifle,” when in fact it means “Arma-Lite rifle,” named for the company that originally designed it.
Lankford went on to say that Abbott cannot consider himself “pro-life until he is willing 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 style rifles and that no one needs “access to weapons of war.”
According to the 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 look like a machine gun in appearance, the AR-15 style weapon “fire[s] only one round 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) objected to Ellis’ specific remedies and voted against the resolution while Hidalgo, Ellis, and Commissioner Adrian Garcia (D-Pct. 2) voted to approve.
Ramsey also noted that a suspect out on multiple bonds had allegedly murdered a 9-year-old girl in the Houston area the night before and asked why the commissioners court had not called for a special session on the rising crime rate in the county.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.