Austin City Council approves 'Task Force on Gun Violence'

The Austin City Council voted in favor of creating a "Task Force on Gun Violence" during this week's meeting.

Staying on top of the issue locally. "In the absence of State and Federal action we have to do everything we can here in Austin to end gun violence," said District 10 Council Member Alison Alter.

According to Alter's resolution, the 11-member task force would make recommendations for enhancing safe storage education and gun surrender programs. The resolution would also create new reporting procedures for gun violence data. "The reality is that there's so much gun violence that doesn't make the headlines, that's about domestic violence, that's about suicide," Alter said.

Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison said she wants to make sure the city is paying the closest possible attention to this issue, but she did have some questions and concerns. "Something I hear often is 'Why do we have so many commissions?'  'Why do we have so many task forces?'  'Why do we so frequently hire consultants?'" Harper-Madison said.

She told the council she was having a hard time answering those questions when it came to this task force. "I just want to make certain that we don't put ourselves in a position to where we create a task force that can't produce actionable items," she said.

Second amendment advocate Michael Cargill has some of those same concerns about the concept of a city task force. "Do they even accomplish anything?  Are they just going to talk about something, or we actually going to get something done?  Yeah, it's exhausting," Cargill said.

Having said that, Cargill says he'd be happy to bring his expertise to the 11-member group.  He's hoping Council Member Harper-Madison would appoint him. "I'm in District 1.  I'm a federal firearms license dealer.  I'm the great resource for them if they want to know some of the gun laws, if they want to know some of the leaks in the system and all that stuff," Cargill said.

So why is a local approach important?

"Houston did this recently, and they were able to identify things like gun thefts at sporting events as a major way that guns were changing hands in Houston.  If you can identify a problem that directly then you can tackle it at the local level," Alter said.

Alter says the task force doesn't replace the need for state action. "We need gun background checks that actually work.  Those are things that have to happen at a different level of government, but we cannot sit back idly and not do anything," Alter said.

Council Member Alter hopes the task force will start work in September.



Gap in background check system allowed AR-15 sale to Pease Park gunman

Activists, politicians gather at Capitol to call for gun control reform

Austin City Council urging state, federal government to act on gun violence

Call for immediate action on gun safety legislation

Gun threat turns into hours-long standoff in North Austin