On January 1st, the open carry law takes effect. Campus carry will follow. Texas Gun Sense says it's time to focus on safety. The group established a coalition to reduce gun violence and held its first meeting Tuesday.
On Tuesday law enforcement, mental health professionals, students and professors came together at the state capitol to form the Texas Coalition to Reduce Gun Violence.
"The gun lobbyists say all the time guns don't kill people, People kill people," said Lori Haas. "Who? Who kills people? Who is dangerous? Who is at elevated risk?"
Lori Haas is on a mission to find and share those answers. Her daughter was shot twice in the back of the head during the Virginia Tech massacre.
"Emily had 11 classmates that were shot and killed, 11 because someone with a mental health record, whose record wasn't in the system was able to get a firearm, so I think we can do a better job," said Haas.
Haas's son attends UT where campus carry will soon go into effect. She has met with campus officials including the police chief to discuss prevention methods. Her recommendation is to establish a threat assessment team with access to concealed carry permit information.
"Let's say a professor has concern, a real serious concern about a student threatening self-harm or to others, someone knows that person has a concealed carry permit, maybe interventions can be taken to save that person's life or others," said Haas.
UT Professor Jeremy Suri shared his concerns with campus carry.
"I sit on a committee at the university where I see all the data on acts of violence of all different kinds on university campuses, many involve alcohol. Many involve young people doing things that young people if they thought about it, 'they wouldn't do, you add guns to that mix and it's absolutely horrifying to think about," said Suri.
Texas Gun Sense Executive Director Andrea Brauer says the purpose of the coalition is to listen to various opinions and develop policy ideas for the 2017 legislative session and potentially state agency policy in the interim.
"Safety around gun violence is not talked about enough here. It's very unbalanced; the conversation is on gun rights, not gun safety. We hope to explore all of the diff avenues we can to help improve public safety around guns in Texas," said Brauer.
There are four meetings scheduled for 2016:
- February 26, 2-4 p.m.
- June 1, 2-4 p.m.
- September 7, 2-4 p.m.
- December 7, 2-4 p.m.