Over the weekend seven people were killed and at least 20 injured in a mass shooting in Midland-Odessa. Police killed the shooter, raising the toll to eight. Odessa native Brooks Landgraf represents the city and the rest of House District 81 in the Texas Legislature and says the last couple of days have been “absolutely heartbreaking.” But he says he was also heartened by how people came together to show support for the victims.
“It’s been a wide range of emotions, but it has certainly made us all feel very human,” Landgraf says.
Landgraf has been visiting with victims and their families.
He says he still believes in the Second Amendment, but also says that something needs to be “done to mitigate the scourge of gun violence.”
“If we can’t come up with a solution that both balances the rights of law-abiding citizens and helps to mitigate that gun violence, then we lack imagination,” Landgraf says.
In the meantime, some new, looser gun laws went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1 – one day after the West Texas mass shooting. The two aren’t directly connected, but show the opposing forces at play in the Texas gun debate. Landgraf says he’s trying to listen to as many different opinions as possible from constituents, and “aggregate” them to try to come up with a solution.
“I don’t want to put any specific option on the table right now; I don’t want to have any preconceived notions. But I also don’t want to take any options off the table,” Landgraf says. “I think that we need to have a full discussion among my constituents and then I can take that, as their state representative, to the Texas Capitol.”
The Legislature doesn’t reconvene until 2021, but Landgraf says it’s possible that Gov. Greg Abbott could agree to a special session to deal with gun violence.
“The key to making a special session successful is to have an idea well thought out, and try to build consensus for that idea before it begins, that way you can use that limited period of time to actually enact something,” Landgraf says.
He says he wouldn’t push for a special session immediately because he’s not yet prepared to propose a meaningful solution.
“That needs to be served up and ready to go,” Landgraf says.
Written by Caroline Covington.