HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Should anyone be able to buy a gun without a background check? Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo is joining Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in calling for universal background checks.
We can currently buy guns from a private seller, online or from a gun show without undergoing a background check. U.S. Rep. Jackson Lee and Chief Acevedo, among others, say that is dangerous and should not continue to happen.
"We have a public health epidemic in this country where thousands of Americans are dying at the hands of a firearm," says Chief Acevedo.
The chief and the Congresswoman say they are not trying to take away the right to bear arms.
"But we can promote gun safety, require universal background checks, ban military-style assault weapons," explains Congresswoman Jackson Lee.
"Are we doing everything we possibly can from a policy perspective to keep guns in the right hands?," asks Chief Acevedo.
"Regulating or providing safety measures is not gun control," adds Congresswoman Jackson Lee.
"I never said anything about gun control," adds Chief Acevedo. "What we're talking about is gun sense."
While this group is speaking out against mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas, they're also addressing guns in the hands of domestic abusers.
"I felt ashamed, I felt embarrassed and I felt demoralized and I thought I was responsible for his mean and loathsome personality," explains Aimee Mobley Tourney with the group Moms Demand Action, as she describes how an abusive boyfriend she dated decades ago had pulled a gun on her. "Federal law and the law in most states allows most domestic abusers to easily evade a background check by purchasing guns online or at gun shows."
Those who gathered say they're simply trying to find a solution to the problem of gun violence.
"Our son was murdered on January 3, 2017," says one woman who walked to the podium explaining the gun violence that killed her son was the most difficult thing she's ever had to endure.
"This was my 20-year-old son that did not get a chance to continue his life," said another woman who held up a picture of her deceased son.
One potential fix, according to the people in this group, is mandatory background checks no matter where you buy your gun.
"We get our driver's license, we have to take a test," says Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen. "They check us when we get our driver's license. Why wouldn't we go through a check to make sure you're OK to handle a firearm? It just doesn't make any sense to me,"
Congresswoman Jackson Lee has written a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to instruct the ATF to ban 'bump stocks,' which critics say turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun. Several of the Las Vegas shooter's guns had 'bump stocks.'
"Touching this one button right here changes it from semi-automatic to fully-automatic," demonstrates Constable Rosen as he holds a military assault weapon.
'Bump stocks' have sold out, by the way, since there's been talk of banning them. The Congresswoman says she's planning a gun buyback program here in the Houston area in hopes of getting illegal guns off the street. She says she's also working on getting certain bullets banned such as ammunition that can pierce body armor. Congress was scheduled to consider the Hearing Protection Act this week which would make silencers more readily available. Jackson Lee is calling for hearings so Congress can hear from law enforcement before a decision is made.