In an open letter to the Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus, State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is calling for the creation of a commission to examine the roots of gun violence in the state and recommend solutions, including "common sense gun control reforms."
In the letter, excerpted in the Austin American-Statesman, Villalba said that while mental health funding is a component of any solution, "the Commission shall focus on ALL possible causes of gun violence in Texas INCLUDING lax or deficient gun control laws and regulations in Texas." The letter continues:
" ... No shibboleth shall be off limits. THERE NEEDS TO BE COMMON SENSE GUN CONTROL REFORMS IN TEXAS! If we expect a change in the outcomes, we must consider all inputs. The time is now to DO something. Whatever that may be.
"Tonight, I will go home and I will rest my hands and my face on the tops of my children’s heads. We will say our prayers and we will hug and I will thank God for them. For many families in Charlottesville, Sandy Hook, Killeen, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and across America, that will not happen. Today is the day that Texan parents like you and me stand up and say, enough. As God is our witness, this stops here.”
Villalba's letter comes in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 dead and 20 injured. In response to the shooting, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton defaulted to an often-argued NRA position that “at least we have the opportunity to have concealed carry,” adding that “there’s always the opportunity that gunman will be taken out.”
In an initial statement following the shooting, Villalba said it was time to find common-sense solutions to gun violence, "while also protecting our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms."
According to the American-Statesman, the commission Villalba proposes would comprise four state senators and four House members — split between the two parties — a law enforcement specialist, a mental health expert, a member of the clergy and an ethicist, all chosen by a majority of the other appointees.