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Texas House creates mass violence committee

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Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen has formed a House Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety.

The committee was created in response to the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Midland-Odessa, which left a combined number of 29 people dead and 49 people wounded. 

The committee is tasked with studying and recommending effective legislative solutions and examining a comprehensive cross-section of policy-related charges. 

Bonnen has already directed the house committee to review current laws and evaluate options for “strengthening enforcement measures,” which “prevent the transfer of firearms to felons” and other people prohibited from possessing a gun. 

One option being discussed is expanding background checks to include private gun sales. Background checks for private gun sales have become a hot button issue after the Midland-Odessa shooting. 

When the gunman, Seth Ator, 36, tried to buy a weapon in January 2014 he failed a background check. Later, he was able to purchase a short-barreled, semi-automatic rifle in a private sale. 

The house committee has also been asked to “evaluate current protocols and extreme risk indicators used to identify potential threats.” 

Bonnen appointed seven Republicans and six Democrats to the committee. He picked state Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) to serve as chair. 

Darby’s name is reportedly on a list of 10 Republicans Bonnen asked conservative firebrand Michael Quinn Sullivan to target in the 2020 primary election.

Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) was tapped as vice-chair. Reps. Cesar Blanco and Joe Moody — both El Paso Democrats — and Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) will also serve on the committee. 

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