On Thursday, the Texas Senate Select Committee will hold a hearing in response to the shootings in El Paso and Odessa. Volunteers with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will attend the hearing and urge the committee to consider legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales and a strong red flag law. To interview a Moms Demand Action volunteer before the hearing, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed individuals, who can sell guns to strangers they meet online or at gun shows. This loophole has deadly consequences. The shooter who killed seven people and wounded 25 last month in Odessa, Texas, purchased the assault weapon used in the shooting through a private, or unlicensed, seller and avoided undergoing a background check. A recent report showed that in 2018 alone, there were as many as 60,362 ads on Armslist.com offering guns for sale in Texas with no background check required.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring background checks on all gun sales. Recent polling from Fox News showed that requiring a background check on all gun sales is supported by 89 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats and 93 percent of gun-owning households. This month, longtime NRA ally Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick voiced support for legislation that would strengthen background checks. More information on background checks is available here.
Perpetrators of mass shootings and school shootings often display warning signs before committing violent acts. Red flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, allow immediate family members and law enforcement officers to act on those warning signs by petitioning a court to temporarily remove guns from dangerous situations. Red flag laws have been enacted by 17 states and the District of Columbia. Interventions in states with red flag laws have already prevented these potential tragedies. Red flag laws can also be used to prevent suicides. More information on red flag laws is available here.