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San Antonio area leaders call for special session on gun reforms

Judge Nelson Wolff speaks at news confefence to call for special legislative session on gun reforms.png
Judge Nelson Wolff speaks at a news conference in San Antonio on Friday June 3rd, 2022 to call for a special legislative session on gun reforms

Bexar county's top-ranking elected officials on Friday unanimously called on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to immediately convene a legislative special session on gun reforms in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

Nineteen students and two teachers were shot and killed on May 24th at Robb Elementary before law enforcement fatally wounded the 18-year-old gunman.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, joined by Commissioners Justin Rodriguez and Rebeca Clay-Flores, demanded the governor take swift action before another school year starts.  They were joined by District Attorney Joe Gonzales and Sheriff Javier Salazar.

Judge Wolff, a former state lawmaker himself, opened the news conference.

"A special session needs to be called now because in less than three months...the fall school semester will begin," he said.

Wolff called for the age to buy semiautomatic weapons to be increased from 18 to 21 by the Texas Legislature.  He also supports a red flag law that would prevent guns from landing in the hands of someone that could be dangerous. Wolff also said universal background checks are needed.

He said if the legislature is unable to act, they should let voters decide on gun reform.

Commissioner Rodriguez also served in the legislature.

"It's become a little bit of a joke, but they say in the legislature the busiest day of the year is mañana," Rodriguez said. "This has to stop."

Rodriguez said Abbott's lack of action is shameful and disrespectful to all Texans.

Commissioner Clay-Flores called on voters to get behind gun reform candidates.

"Don't allow the 19 children and two teachers to have died in vain.  Their blood cries out for change," she said.

Commissioners appear set to discuss programs and funding at their meeting next Tuesday that are intended to curb gun violence further, including funding for mental health programs, gun lock distribution, and gun safety education.

The county's ban on gun shows on its properties put into place a few years ago continues.

"Specifically the Freeman Coliseum and the AT&T Center," Rodriguez said.

Congressman Joaquin Castro also appeared to call on Congress to act on many of the same issues raised by Wolff.  He pledged the House will take action, but pointed out the Senate is just sitting on some gun reforms.

He said some politicians may disagree on gun reforms, but he says the American public does not. Castro said polls show 90% of Americans support gun reforms.

Castro said he was asked on a trip to Uvalde how an 18-year-old could not buy beer, but could purchase semiautomatic weapons.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales and Sheriff Javier Salazar also joined Wolff and the commissioners to call for a special session.

The sheriff said some first responders are armed with some SWAT-style weapons here so there are no delays breaching a school with a shooter inside.

"To be a clear, these are tools that could have made a world of difference in Uvalde and we are fortunate to have them here. Most of the time, these patrol deputies are arriving on the scene before smoke has even cleared from the air and need these tools to get in immediately and stop the killing and stop the dying," Salazar said.

The sheriff said joint shooter training with schools and school safety assessments will continue. He also said specialized units are getting guns used by criminals off the streets. He also called for gun owners to not leave guns in their vehicles where, they can be stolen — a growing problem that is fueling gun violence.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales said he'll aggressively prosecute cases where guns were modified with switches to be more deadly. He also said he will seek gun destruction orders for weapons used in successfully prosecuted criminal cases.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian