Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to address the mass shooting in El Paso that occurred earlier this month. Last week he announced the creation of a domestic terrorism task force that will include federal, state and local officials primarily from law enforcement agencies.
Now, Abbott has created the Texas Safety Commission, which will look at potential legislative fixes to combatting domestic terrorism and keeping guns out of the hands of “deranged individuals,” in Abbott’s words. The group will meet on Aug. 22 in Austin.
State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, whose District 75 includes some of El Paso, is a member of the new commission. She says the tragedy of the shooting has brought El Paso together.
“I think if you just turn on the news and see how the community is coming together, it’s really powerful,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez says she’s glad the governor’s charge to the commission includes combating extremism – the accused El Paso shooter expressed a desire to kill Mexicans.
“We can’t have a conversation without every topic at the table,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez says she and her colleagues in the El Paso legislative delegation don’t want to politicize the shooting. But she says that if the legislature were to be called into special session, as some have advocated, it would be worthwhile to address and investigate other topics.
“I would say, right now, our country is really divided,” Gonzalez says. “And the legislature tried to get some action done on [mass shootings] during session. We don’t want to go back and just relive a reality where we are not prepared to actually get something across the finish line.”
Gonzalez says she hopes the safety commission will come up with an agenda for a future special session.
“I think, going into this, everything should be on the table,” Gonzalez says.
She supports addressing the underlying issues of racism, as well as gun control.
“We had the largest shooting targeting Latino people in the history of the United States,” she says. “For people in my community waking up to that, it’s a different world for us.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.