MJ Hegar (TX-Sen), "An Open Letter to John Cornyn"

Published by The Texas Tribune

Dear Sen. Cornyn:

As I was driving through West Texas talking to local folks recently, I heard the news of the mass shooting nearby in Midland and Odessa. My heart dropped as I pulled out my phone to get more information and saw gut-wrenching video of parents huddling in a field covering their children, who were screaming and crying, telling them that it would be all right while semi-automatic gunfire echoed in the background.

I flashed back to my time in Afghanistan as the sounds of war rang in my ears. This isn’t the first time something reminded me so viscerally of my three tours in combat. But something different happened to me when I heard the terrified cries of children layered over the gunfire. Now I was experiencing war not just as a soldier, but as a mother, and this wasn’t a war zone on foreign soil, but in the streets of west Texas.

From Sutherland Springs to Santa Fe to El Paso, the sounds of war have rung out in Texas churches, high schools and stores. Enough is enough. If we’re to be the land of the free, then the brave among us must act to give our people the freedom to go to movies, shop in stores and walk through parks without having to be vigilant for threats.

That starts with getting weapons of war off of our streets and calling on governors and state legislators to ban the open carry of weapons. The reality is this: The reasons gun owners like me have for wanting to protect our Second Amendment rights — chief among them protecting our families — are not served by open carry. In recent days, we have seen companies like Walmart and Kroger take the lead and ask patrons to not openly carry weapons in their stores, but we can’t depend on that. Open carry itself is an assault on every bystander within range, as we feel the need to flee and cover our children without the freedom to call law enforcement for help. We must empower people to “see something, say something.”

We must pass sweeping common-sense gun safety legislation that is dying in U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard, which would require background checks on every single gun sale — a proposal that a recent survey by The Washington Post-ABC News found was supported by 88% of gun owners and would close the loophole that may have allowed the Odessa shooter to acquire his weapon.

We need to stop the sale of assault weapons to the public, pass anti-trafficking regulations and red flag laws, give the Center for Disease Control the money needed to research gun violence prevention and increase straw purchase sentencing.

We know the gun violence epidemic in this country reaches far beyond the tragic mass shootings that we seem to be accepting as commonplace. Domestic violence, accidental shootings, children getting their hands on irresponsibly stored weapons and suicides are robbing us of our mothers, brothers, babies and our soul as a country.

John Cornyn, you have a choice before you. If you want to keep your job as a United States Senator working for the people of Texas, you need to quit working for the NRA and Mitch McConnell. As a mother, a Texan and a responsible gun owner, I sincerely hope you put politics aside and take the needed actions to protect our communities. We are Texas, and we’re in this together.
— MJ Hegar
Source: https://www.tribtalk.org/2019/09/09/an-ope...

Pritesh Gandhi (TX-10), "Common Sense Gun Safety"

Physicians like me see the trauma caused by our weak gun safety laws every day.

In 2012, weeks after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I founded a group, Doctors Against Gun Violence, while I was doing my residency at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans. Along with fellow physicians, I crisscrossed the state of Louisiana providing a louder voice to promote evidence-based research in a campaign for common-sense gun safety laws.

Fund gun violence research.

After decades of the NRA placating gun manufacturers and bullying our elected officials to turn a blind eye, Congress is finally taking action to understand our gun violence crisis. However, the Senate is now blocking $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to study gun violence. The Senate should fund these efforts immediately.

Congress should implement these changes immediately:

Pass Universal Background Checks. No person should be able to purchase a deadly firearm from another person without first passing a background check that ensures they don’t have a criminal history, or a history of violence against themselves or others, that prohibits them from owning a gun.

Support Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Allow physicians and family members to report individuals – who are a risk to themselves or others – to law enforcement and allow law enforcement to temporarily revoke access to firearms with the order of a judge.

Ban Assault Weapons and Large-Capacity Magazines. No civilian should have a weapon of war for personal use. Congress should ban the purchase of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Congress should also take steps to regulate the estimated 15 million assault weapons that are already in circulation, including establishing voluntary buy-back programs.

Close the Partner and Stalker Loopholes. Congress should expand the list of persons prohibited from purchasing a firearm to include individuals with a history of domestic violence and stalking.

End Gun Industry Immunity. Treat the gun industry just like any other and allow victims of gun violence to seek civil compensation from irresponsible gun manufacturers. Congress should close this NRA favored loophole in our civil justice system.
— https://www.gandhifortexas.com/common-sense-gun-safety

Hank Gilbert (TX-01), "Gun Violence"

The federal government must pass legislation to require better and more enhanced background checks for firearms purchases, including ending the gun-show loophole and mandating that private sales are processed the same as a new gun sale.

Additionally, Congress must pass legislation allowing states to implement so-called “red flag” laws that will allow people who pose a danger to themselves or others to be temporarily blocked from possessing firearms by state courts.

Congress must also pass laws holding gun dealers accountable for improper gun sales when those weapons are used in mass casualty incidents.

We must also pass restrictions on high-capacity magazines and high-caliber semi-automatic weapons and bump stocks.
— http://hankfortexas.com/issues/

Sema Hernandez (TX-Sen), Democratic Senate Candidates Talk Guns, Background Checks, NRA At Frisco Forum

Sema Hernandez said she wants assault weapon buyback and universal background checks, but says only wholesale political change can make substantial reform.

”Weapons of war do not belong on our streets and in our homes,” Hernandez said. “And for someone to say that these AR-15s are for hunting — I mean who are you kidding? Are you a bad hunter?”
— Christopher Connelly, KERA News

Source: https://www.keranews.org/post/democratic-s...

Chris Bell (TX-Sen), "Texas Democrats running for Senate want ban, buyback of assault-style rifles"

“I want to see an all-out ban and buy-back program on assault weapons,” said Chris Bell, a former Houston congressman, calling for the government to confiscate the weapons as Australia did in the 1990s. “Weapons of war don’t need to be in the hands of individuals.”
— Benjamin Wermund, Houston Chronicle

Elisa Cardnell (TX-02) Tweet

Kim Olson (TX-24) Tweet

Chris Bell (TX-Sen), "Former congressman Bell says experience lifts him over growing Democratic field to challenge GOP Sen. Cornyn in 2020"

Bell joins most Democrats in urging GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call the chamber off its August recess so it can take up gun legislation already passed by the House.

“For the first time, I really think the motivation is there to do something,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think red flag laws and background checks are enough. I would like to see an assault weapons ban.”
— https://www.marshallnewsmessenger.com/news/counties/former-congressman-bell-says-experience-lifts-him-over-growing-democratic/article_93da2998-c060-11e9-95b7-333361d87a1e.html

Rick Kennedy (TX-17), "Universal Background Checks"

There is no issue that better exemplifies the stranglehold that special interests have on Congress than that of universal background checks on firearms purchases. Upwards of 90% of all Americans, including 80% of Republican voters, support universal background checks.

On February 27th, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Despite the word “bipartisan” in the title, my opponent, Bill Flores, and 187 other Republicans voted against it. The bill is now blocked in the Senate.

It is unclear to me why anybody would vote against legislation that would promote public safety, without preventing any person who has the legal right to purchase firearms, and has the overwhelming support of American people. What is clear is that the voice of the people is no longer heard in the halls of Congress.

There are no simple answers to the epidemic of gun violence in our country. Universal background checks is only one of many small steps we can take to start to address a problem that will take many years to solve. But let me be clear - it is a step that I, as your Congressman, would fully support.
— Rick Kennedy

Greg Sagan (TX-13), "My Thoughts on the Second Amendment"

Recently I received a survey from the National Rifle Association asking for my views – as a candidate for Congress – on a number of Second Amendment issues. This was my response:

Dear Mr. Ouimet:

I recently received your survey for Federal candidates for public office to find out where they stand on second amendment issues. I must admit that I found the questions in this survey to be rather biased, in some cases markedly so, so instead of answering your survey questions I will outline my position on second amendment rights in summary form.

First, I grew up with guns, and I support the second amendment in principle. I have owned handguns, rifles and/or shotguns for most of my adult life. I currently own two handguns, and I am licensed by the state of Texas to carry them openly, on my person, in public. With only a few exceptions, I carry one of them almost all the time I am outside. In addition, while on active duty with the US Navy (I am a Vietnam veteran) I was on the Navy Match Pistol Team while stationed in Subic Bay, R.P., and I am authorized to wear the Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with silver “E” for “Expert.” So I consider myself a “second amendment” supporter in both words and deeds.

I also believe in certain restrictions to the second amendment. For example, I believe:

– That no civilian needs or should be allowed to possess a fully-automatic firearm;

– That no civilian needs or should be allowed to possess a silencer;

– That no civilian needs or should be allowed to possess a high capacity magazine – i.e., a magazine that holds more than 15 rounds;

– That no one be allowed to obtain a state or federal license to either own or carry a firearm without a background check, without adequate training, without an adequate mental health evaluation by a licensed professional psychologist or psychiatrist, without appropriate liability insurance, and without a demonstration of proper handling before a certified firearms instructor;

– That no one who has been prosecuted for domestic violence be allowed to own a firearm of any kind;

– That no one who has been convicted of a violent crime of any kind be allowed to own a firearm of any kind;

– That no one with a diagnosed mental health condition that makes him (or her) a risk to the public be allowed to own a firearm of any kind;

– That no civilian be allowed to own a functioning mortar, rocket launcher or “crew-served” weapon of any kind.

In addition, I believe that each state should be allowed to decide how to license people to carry firearms, whether to recognize reciprocity in firearm licensing with other states, and whether to modify their criminal statutes to address gun ownership and gun violence. I realize that there is a counter argument on the constitutional basis of “full faith and credit” for carrying firearms either openly or concealed, but I also recognize that there are exceptions to this clause (e.g., legalized marijuana) that apply to gun ownership, licensing and carrying.

As far as veterans returning from conflicts with “liberated” weapons, I would allow them to keep such weapons only if they are permanently rendered incapable of “fully automatic” functioning.

This is my position, so grade me as you will.
— Greg Sagan
Source: https://futuretense.blog/2018/01/02/my-tho...

Sri Kulkarni (TX-22) Facebook Post

“‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” This is a headline that I used to post every time there was a mass shooting, until it just got to be too painful to keep posting. As someone who has witnessed gun violence personally, who has had friends whose children have been murdered in mass shootings, and who has traveled the world to over 60 other countries, it is maddening, humiliating, and extremely painful to have to admit that my country’s politicians refuse to even try to do something about this problem. We have had more than one mass shooting per day this year. This weekend was particularly horrific, with at least 31 people killed, including 22 in El Paso, Texas.

The President is visiting Dayton and El Paso today. Despite our differences, there are several things that I agree with the President on. I agree with the President that we should implement “red flag” laws. There are many individuals whose prior behavior has indicated that they should not have access to firearms. However, there are other gun reforms we also need. We should enact locker laws to ensure people other than the owners do not have access to those weapons when the owners are out of the house. (This could have prevented the tragedy in Santa Fe, TX.) We should also have UNIVERSAL background checks, which the President committed to support in the past, but then backtracked on. There are many such common sense gun reforms that Republican and Democratic voters agree on, and our elected leaders should pass, but they have not because they are beholden to the NRA. To be clear, I support the 2nd amendment, whose first 14 words are “A well regulated military being necessary to the security of a free State...” All we are talking about is how to be well regulated. The purpose of the 2nd amendment from the beginning was to make Americans SAFER (by allowing each state militia to defend their people). If we are now more worried about the safety of our guns than the safety of our children, we end up abandoning the spirit of the Constitution as well as the security of our families, when we should be defending both.

Second, we do need more access to mental health care in this country. Many people have noted that the mentally ill are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence. But, that obscures the point that we cannot just talk about the “mentally ill” as if everyone else in our society has no need for mental health services. Just as we must invest more in preventative physical health care before our problems become acute, we must also invest heavily in access to mental health services for our entire society, because everyone has a state of mental health. Every human being (and especially our youth) gets stressed, and they respond to it in different ways. Every stressed out student should have access to mental health services, regardless of whether they have voiced a desire to harm themselves or others, because we should be striving for a healthy society, not just one that reacts to threats.

Lastly, while I appreciate that the President said we should condemn hate and white supremacy, which was clearly a motivation for the El Paso killer, stating that without retracting his own racist statements is hollow and insulting. The President started his campaign by saying that most migrants from Mexico were “rapists” and were bringing “drugs” and “crime” to America, while only “some,” he “assumes, are good people.” We cannot sugar coat this. This is hate speech, which incites people to see any Latinos as dangerous. When he said that an American of Latino heritage could not be his judge, he was telling the country that this ethnicity is less American than others (what Paul Ryan called “textbook racism.”) When he repeatedly uses the term “invasion” to describe migrants and asylum seekers, he cannot feign ignorance when killers in El Paso or Pittsburgh think they are being patriots by defending America against the imaginary “invasion” they have been told is happening on US soil. Using softer language like “unorthodox style” or “sensationalized rhetoric” normalizes what he is doing. The President has been inciting bigotry and even violence with his hate speech. In Christchurch, the killer directly referenced President Trump’s hate speech in his justification for murder. Even in his response to the mass shootings this weekend, he suggested tying gun reform legislation to “desperately needed immigration reform,” implying that if his proposals, such as building “The Wall” had been enacted, that would have somehow prevented a mass shooting. He continues to inflame anger even in our moment of national grief. Until he retracts and apologizes for his own incitement, including the calls for banning entire faiths, the racial slanders and stereotypes, and the promotion of fear mongering conspiracy theories, such as “birtherism”, millions of illegal voters, or full blown “invasion,” any visit to the victims of El Paso is insensitive and inappropriate.
— Sri Kulkarni

Julie Oliver (TX-25), "El Paso"

Yesterday, a white supremacist terrorist entered an El Paso Wal-Mart and killed 20 people. His stated purpose was killing as many Latinos as possible.

Our hearts are broken. We are sending so much love to all of our Texas family there. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States and it is such a generous, loving and safe community.

As we say after ever mass shooting in America, we recommit ourselves to taking meaningful action to end the public health crisis of gun violence continues to take lives every day in this country.

We do not have to live like this. But our current state leadership has absolutely failed in their sworn duty to protect its citizens, and our own Congressman is more interested in kowtowing to the NRA than in keeping us safe.

Texas law allows the open carry of semiautomatic rifles. It does not require a background check, training or an age limit. Walmart allows open carry. And yet 20 people were killed. More guns does not equal more safety.

This country can not bear more inaction. You’re either sticking up for machines created to murder the most people and the corporations that profit from selling them, or you’re sticking up for the people of Texas.

We choose the people of Texas. And we won’t stop fighting until public life in America is safe again.

There are concrete solutions to the public health crisis of gun violence in America. It is not too soon to call for them, and saying that it is dishonors the victims of the El Pas shooting, their families, and every other survivor of gun violence in this country. My commitments to common sense gun safety legislation include:

- universal background checks,

- a ban on public sale of weapons of war, designed to kill the most people with the most efficiency,

- strong red flag laws,

- closing the gun show loophole,

- opposing concealed carry reciprocity,

- and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act for both gun manufacturers and gun retailers.

But we need to be clear about the El Paso shooting. This is not a mental health issue. This is not a video games issue. This is not a prayer in schools issue.

This was an act of white supremacist terrorism.

It was carried out by someone who drove 9 hours to explicitly wanted to kill Hispanics and Latinos, and who subscribes to an ideology that very closely mirrors statements that corporate right-wing media pundits and the president himself makes, every day.

We need to push back on the narrative that politicians try to hide behind to avoid accountability: that it’s video games, or a lack of prayer in schools, or it’s “mental illness”. Texas is the most uninsured state in the country, and blaming “mental illness” for a politically motivated act of terror further stigmatizes those who can’t get the care they need in a country that does not provide healthcare to its citizens, in a state where millions do not have health insurance.

Let’s be clear. Call it what it is. White supremacist terrorism.

Federal and TX law enforcement must present their plan to identify, disrupt and dismantle white nationalist terror networks, and hold the individuals and corporations who have enabled it accountable — including Donald Trump.
— Julie Oliver

Donna Imam (TX-31) Twitter Statement

Sri Kulkarni (TX-22) Facebook Post

Devastating, heartbreaking news from El Paso today. Today we will mourn, and we will pray, but we know that prayers aren’t enough - we need action. We need to end the culture of gun violence in this country - and we need Congress and our President to pass real reforms now.

Too many Facebook statuses, too many statements from public officials, and too many empty promises. Safe schools are not too much to ask. Safe grocery stores, community festivals, churches, synagogues, and mosques are NOT too much to ask.

We need to demand more from our leaders in Austin and Washington. We can strive for more than fearing each other and public spaces. This world is possible - I’ll fight for it.
— https://www.facebook.com/SriforCongress/