Less than a day after a bill that would raise the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles unexpectedly passed through Committee, Texas IAF leaders learned that Representative Guillen (from Rio Grande City) appeared to be actively suppressing House Bill 2744 from being heard on the floor. Delayed submission of the Committee report resulted in the bill missing a crucial deadline for it to put on the Calendars schedule for Thursday -- the last day to hear new bills.
Leaders from across the state held an emergency press conference calling on Guillen and the Texas House Speaker to allow the bill to be heard, and for Calendars.
“Guillen and Burrows should...let the representatives vote their conscience on the House floor. Overwhelmingly, Texans support increasing the age limit of when people can buy assault weapons,” Rev. Minerva Camarena-Skeith from Central Texas Interfaith asserted.
“We’re very, very angry at what’s going on, with them holding this bill hostage,” Valley Interfaith leader Rosalie Tristan of Raymondville told the Rio Grande Guardian.
"How many more children have to die before we act?" demanded TMO leader Bishop John Ogletree.
[Photo Credit: Blaine Young, Texas Tribune]
TMO, with Texas IAF, Bishops & Faithful Call on Lt. Governor and Senate to Reject 'Permitless Carry' Legislation
Bishops, rabbis, clergy and faithful from across Texas convened to express vocal opposition to the passage of proposed legislation HB1927 which would allow "permitless carry" in the state of Texas.
Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz referenced the massacre in El Paso which resulted in dozens of residents dead and seriously injured. Baptist Rev. Darryl Crooms from San Antonio testified to the "unnaturalness" of adults burying children. Lutheran Rev. Jessica Cain testified to the impact of last weekend's shooting in North Austin on local worshippers. Rabbi David Lyon recalled last year's deadly shooting in Santa Fe High School.
Together -- with Lutheran Bishop Erik Gronberg, Episcopal Bishop Suffragan Kathryn Ryan, Methodist Director of Missional Outreach Andy Lewis, Dallas Catholic Bishop Gregory Kelly and several lay leaders -- all expressed concern that passage of HB1927 would increase gun violence. States that have passed similar laws, removing the required license and training needed to carry a handgun, experienced spikes in homicides and gun violence.
"You’ll find no scripture that will support this kind of legislation,” said Pastor John Ogletree, First Metropolitan Church of Houston.
“It makes our church much less safe,” said El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz.
Texas Faith Leaders Come Out Against 'Permitless Carry', CBS Austin [pdf]
Over 600 TMO leaders from 44 institutions convened Sunday, October 20th at Assumption Catholic Church to hold Houston mayoral candidates accountable to the organization's slate of issues. TMO leaders shared stories and asked targeted questions about gun safety, reducing fear in immigrant communities, flood recovery, flood prevention, illegal dumping, workforce development, and just wages.
All three candidates -- Mr. Tony Buzbee, Mr. Bill King, and Mr. Sylvester Turner -- committed to meeting with TMO leaders within the first 30 days in office if elected.
With early voting beginning Tuesday, TMO leaders reminded the assembly to vote and help get out the vote.
Mayoral Candidates Pressed on Guns, Harvey Recovery, Dumping, Houston Chronicle
As the state legislature prepares to convene, local clergy and The Metropolitan Organization on Sunday held a gun control vigil at Trinity United Methodist Church. Those present spoke passionately about gun safety policies.
“Despite the fact that we’re supposed to be a first-world country, a civilized nation, a nation of laws, we continue to see the scourge of gun violence in the United States,” said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo....
David Lyon, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, read an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle in January of 2013. After every mass shooting in the years since, he has referred to the article and says he could still write it word for word. He eventually published a version for his congregation with blanks instead of the words “Sandy Hook” so that members could fill in the name of the latest disaster.
“Our purpose here is to stop filling in the blanks and change the narrative,” Lyon said.
For the Rev. Ed Jones, the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, the urgency of the vigil that he had been planning for months had been underscored by personal tragedy that very week.
A family member, 17-year-old Drew Conley, had been shot and killed the Monday before.
[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle]
Houstonians Recall Sandy Hook Victims and Push for Gun Law Changes, Houston Chronicle
Legislators on Quest to reform Gun Laws, Houston Chronicle
Fulfilling a commitment made to TMO earlier this year, Houston Police Chief (and incoming president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association) Art Acevedo publicly urged American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, to examine its safety practices and standards.
The joint letter, signed also by Rabbi David Lyon, Senior of Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel and leader with TMO, and Montgomery Police Chief (and outgoing MCCA president), J. Thomas Manger, was accompanied with a supportive statement by the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. Do Not Stand Idly By is a national IAF campaign made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote the production and use of smart guns.
[Photo Credit: Bloomberg Business]
Police Chiefs, Clergy to Gunmaker: Cut Shootings by Making Guns Safer, Houston Chronicle
Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer, Bloomberg Business
At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety.
The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy. Rabbi Mosbacher described the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign as a market-based approach to entice gun manufacturers to develop safe(r) gun technologies that make it more difficult for stolen guns to be used and / or sold on the black market. Cortes described the importance of building lasting power through relationships and community organizing. Chief Acevedo expressed his support for the strategy, and agreed to sign on.
Other institutions in attendance included:
Temple Emanu El, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Congregation Brith Shalom, Congregation Shma-Koleina, Jewish Living and Learning, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, St. Andrews United Methodist, eMgage, St. James Episcopal, Hope Episcopal, Our Mother of Mercy, Catholic Charities, St. Mary Magdalene, Assumption Catholic, First Metropolitan, Trinity United Methodist, St. Andrews Episcopal, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Stephen's Episcopal, Chapelwood United Methodist, Holy Family, All Saints Catholic, Presbytery of New Covenant, Memorial Drive United Methodist, St. Anne de Beaupre, and Dallas Area Interfaith.
Houston Might Join Campaign for Gun Safety Focusing on Manufacturer, Houston Public Media