AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) - Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has named nine state senators to the newly formed Select Committee on Mass Violence and Prevention and Community Safety to study issues related to the recent mass shootings in Texas.
The new committee, which is chaired by Houston Senator Joan Huffman and includes Lubbock Senator Charles Perry, will meet later this month.
“It’s just sad there is a committee such as this needed,” Senator Perry said. “I’m humbled to be on that. The Lieutenant Governor could have picked one of 31. It’s important to me that rural Texas and the culture, the gun culture that we have, very responsible, had a voice on there.”
Committee members will examine the impact shootings have the victims of families, ways to keep firearms out of the hands of people who would not pass a federal background check while protecting second amendment rights, look at the role social media and other forms of media could potentially play regarding acts of violence, examine ways law enforcement and others can take mental health into consideration and determine the effectiveness of current laws.
Perry tells KCBD that each Senator will bring different skill-sets. He says the understanding of rural Texas and familiarity of the Odessa-Midland area will help with the views he can bring to the discussions.
“I want to try to remain objective and try to be cognizant that there are two sides of this discussion,” Perry said. “There are several 100 million firearm owners in this country. The vast majority, extremely vast majority are very responsible. They need a voice in this. That’s very clearly in my district. Those are those folks. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that there are people with firearms that do really, really bad things. Is there something we could do to, hopefully, at least identify and possibly prevent those people who choose to be irresponsible and do unconscionable acts with those firearms, can we do something that addresses both sides? I think the answer is, ‘yes’.”
Perry believes it’s not possible for the legislature to pass laws to guarantee there will not be another shooting. However, he expects the committee’s work will result in greater understanding of the issue.
“We really do study and we really try to get policy, if policy is needed, to get it right,” Perry said. “We really do invest in the people that take the time to get us the information we need. At the end of this process, be it by March, May, June, whenever testimonies are all accumulated in reports and recommendations come together, it will be significant and it will be well thought out and very cognizant of all sides of the equation.”
Members appointed to the committee include Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo as vice chair; Donna Campbell, a Republican from New Braunfels; Kelly Hancock, a Republican from North Richland Hills; Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound; Jose Rodriguez, a Democrat from El Paso; Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood; John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston and Perry.
The formation of this committee is in response to — more recently — the mass shooting in Midland-Odessa, a mass shooting in El Paso, a mass school shooting in Santa Fe, a mass church shooting in Sutherland Springs and a police ambush in Dallas.
Read more here.