Welcome to another edition of Notes and Noticias, my weekly newsletter highlighting what’s going on at the Capitol. Each week I’ll be sending you updates about what I’m working on, as well as important bills I’m tracking.
This week I’m highlighting my efforts to decrease gun violence in our communities, an important cause made all the more urgent after the terrible tragedy in Newtown last year.
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Preventing Gun Violence In Our Communities
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Americans have been calling on their elected leaders to respond in a way that reduces the chance of these terrible events happening again.
This session, I plan to file two bills designed to prevent gun violence in our communities.
My first bill would limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and require anyone wishing to purchase an assault weapon to meet qualifications similar to those needed for a concealed handgun license, or CHL. My second bill would require private gun sellers to conduct background checks on buyers before making a sale, just as licensed firearms dealers are required to do by federal law.
These bills are designed to make our communities safer. There is little need for civilians to own assault weapons that were designed for the military with the express purpose of killing scores of people as quickly as possible. Similarly, if we limit high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds, we can reduce the deadliness of semi-automatic weapons.
We need to be sure that those who do obtain these types of weapons are fully capable, mentally sound, and without a criminal history.
There is also widespread support for closing the so-called “gun-show loophole,” in which unlicensed dealers sell guns through cash transactions without conducting background checks. Background checks play an important role in firearms purchases. We need to be sure that every gun purchaser undergoes a background check, and that doing so is not easily avoidable. Background checks have already prevented the purchase of millions of firearms by unqualified people. Unfortunately, until it is closed, the private sale loophole provides such individuals with an alternate avenue of obtaining a weapon.
Implementing a stricter qualification process will prevent dangerous people from obtaining these deadly weapons, while allowing those who are capable and responsible to still be able to do so.
Finally, to make our schools as safe as possible, I introduced HD 1353, which sets up an emergency response alert system that would decrease response time in the event of an emergency.
We need to be sure that our schools are provided with up-to-date security mechanisms so that communication with law enforcement is streamlined in the event of an emergency.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Each week in my newsletter, I highlight what’s good, bad, and ugly at the Capitol right now.
The Good: Rally to Save Texas Schools
Last Saturday, over 3,500 Texans from across the state marched up Congress Avenue and rallied on the Capitol grounds as part of the Save Texas Schools Rally. Thanks to everyone who came out to stand up for our Texas schoolchildren, and thanks to the organizers for working so hard to show support for public education.
The Bad: Gun-Law Grandstanding
State Rep. Steve Toth introduced a bill to make it a felony in Texas to enforce federal gun laws. I’m not sure if Toth realized that would subject local law enforcement officers to a Class A misdemeanor. We need sensible policies that make our communities safer, not cheap, unconstitutional theatrics.
The Ugly: Rick Perry’s Medicaid Expansion Refusal
Despite Texas having the highest percentage of uninsured residents of any state, Rick Perry refuses to take the Medicaid expansion provided in the Affordable Care Act that would help millions of Texans gain access to healthcare.
Republican governors in 8 states, including Arizona and Ohio, have agreed to the expansion because they know it’s sound policy that is good for their budgets and good for their constituents. It is unconscionable — and sadly, unsurprising — that Rick Perry would put his own political ambitions ahead of the health of millions of Texans.
Join me this Saturday!
Thanks for reading Notes and Noticias. It’s important that I hear from you about your concerns this legislative session.
Please join me this Saturday for a community forum where we’ll discuss my legislative agenda.
Saturday, March 2, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
At the home of Kathy Grant & Jim Henson
915 W. Johanna Street, Austin Texas, 78704
And if you enjoy reading my newsletter and keeping up with the Capitol, please share it with friends and encourage them to sign up on my website.