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TX Mass Violence Prevention Hearings Begin In Odessa

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Courtesy: Odessa College

TEXAS MASS VIOLENCE PREVENTION  HEARINGS -  Last week in Odessa, Texas state lawmakers heard from local officials and residents affected by the August 31st mass shooting. Many urged the lawmakers to pass new laws and tighten existing policy to prevent future violence.

Sharon Griffth, the mother of Joseph Griffith, one of the victims killed in the Odessa shooting  pled with legislators to pass new gun policies like comprehensive background checks.    She believes policies like this could have prevented the Odessa shooter from acquiring the gun that killed her son and six others. She told lawmakers if they don’t take action and another shooting happens , they’d be responsible.

In her testimony, Griffith said “The next time that a mother sits here in this chair and her child has been killed by a mass murder who failed a background check and also bought a gun from a private seller. Then that’s going to be on you.” 

Part of the testimony state lawmakers heard was how to tighten existing laws that could prevent gun violence.    David Slayton is with the Texas Office of Court Administration. He pointed out holes in current policies  like Texas judges being limited in their powers to order convicted criminals to get rid of their firearms.  

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Credit Courtesy: PBS
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Courtesy: PBS
Mourners at memorial outside El Paso Wal Mart in wake of mass shooting that took place in Aug. 2019

“The law currently all it says is that they will notify the individual they are no longer that they are no longer entitled to possess the firearm," explained Slayton. "But there’s no law that says ‘and then they can order to surrender the firearm.”  

Slayton says the courts can only do so much when the laws they enforce limit their powers. The lawmakers didn’t make any decisions at the end of the meeting and will continue to hold hearings across the state.  The House Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety’s  next meeting  will be in El Paso this coming January.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' experience to Red River Radio having started out as a radio news reporter and moving into television journalism as a newsmagazine producer / host, talk-show moderator, programming director and managing producer and news director / anchor for commercial, public broadcasting and educational television. He has more recently worked in advertising, marketing and public relations as a writer, video producer and media consultant. In pursuit of higher learning, Chuck studied Mass Communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.