Columnists Op-Ed Opinion

Who is going to hold our politicians accountable?

By voting for House Bill 1927, Second Amendment ultra right radicals and ‘so-called progressives set themselves on fire and fanned the flames in communities already on fire from the contagion of escalating gun violence in our city, state and nation. And who does HB 1927 serve?
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HOUSE BILL 1927

1927 leaves us apoplectic and angered by the callous and low regard for the lives of weak and vulnerable neighborhoods and families.

By voting for House Bill 1927, Second Amendment ultra right radicals and ‘so-called progressives set themselves on fire and fanned the flames in communities already on fire from the contagion of escalating gun violence in our city, state and nation. And who does HB 1927 serve? By canceling concealed carry licensing and permits, this bill works against the best practices for gun violence prevention. Opposed by many, if not most law enforcement agencies, it defies common sense and opens the floodgates for heightened violence and loss of life for all citizens and especially vulnerable populations. Low income communities and communities of color are awash in unlicensed guns and owners with no required training will predictably experience greater severity and negative impact.

The Houston Violence Prevention Coalitions and Texans for Gun Safety have ben pursuing policies that lead to gun safety and injury prevention. Succinctly, saving lives and lifetimes… A local trauma surgeon made this observation in 2018, “with bullets there is a blast effect. One bullet can affect multiple organs and vessels. We don’t hear about the ones that don’t die – paralyzed, lifelong pain, ostomy and disability.

Mayor Sylvester Turner has pleaded for cessation to violence in families and our neighborhoods that has skyrocketed in frequency and severity during the pandemic.  In 2018, Turner was angered by the gun deaths of 11 children over the past 16 months. He vowed to aggressively work with law enforcement to pursue gun violators. The resulting spike in gun crimes, including gratuitous and random violence has led to emergency rooms filled with trauma victims and continues to cause immense grief in our city. It is important to note that the Sunnyside community was cited in a Houston Chronicle article as one of the three highest “gang inspired” and one of the five most dangerous crime neighborhoods in the U.S., primarily because of gun violence. If my memory is accurate, 50 murders of young adults took place over eight years during the 2000’s.

Recently, I presided at a funeral of a male relative who was a victim of senseless gun violence in Sunnyside.  Concurrently, two other funerals were underway for two victims of the same gun violence event at nearby churches. Four pillars of the community transitioned due to senseless gun violence.

This is also occurring at a time when mass shootings are becoming commonplace nationally, with 147 occurring since January 2019. Gun manufacturers who initially saw a sharp decline in sales and profits, began in the early 1990’s  to manufacture “urban” weapons, including .25 and .32 caliber handguns with seductive and sexy names like Viper which are sold on the streets and out of automobile trunks. And it is sadly ironic that while this debate passed the Texas House of Representatives, we suffered yet another national gun violence mass killing in Indianapolis with eight people dead from an the rampage of an 18-year-old, effectively turning a workplace into a shooting gallery. Science has definitely shown that the teenage brain is too immature to negotiate the decision-making needed for responsible conflict resolution.

It is also important to note that our communities are undergoing mental health crisis that continues to grow. Perpetrators often have guns but no access to mental health care, even when it is sought. Without the licensing that HB 1927 eliminates, there will be no mental health or other screenings for those seeking access to guns. In the current atmosphere of the increase in armed militia groups in the U.S. and in Texas, an attempt to prevent access to unlicensed guns to domestic terrorists and White Supremacists as defined by Homeland Security was voted down.

The Prevention Institute says that the poor outcomes among people with lower incomes and communities of color” is not coincidental, and it is not about poor choices. “These poor health outcomes have been produced by historical and current-day policies, laws, and practices.”

Our politicians, especially the Democratic politicians who supported this reckless legislation, should walk 1927 back and apologize to their communities for this flagrant lapse in judgement and accountability for the welfare of the citizens they represent.

If this piece has led to a higher understanding or more empathy for the victims of random and senseless gun violence, we should demand that the architects of this lunacy walk it back. Call your SENATOR and ask them to KILL HR 1927.

We hold kids accountable, who is going to hold our politicians accountable?

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