“The problem with silencers is, you want people in the vicinity of gunfire to be able to hear the report of a firearm. That’s just common sense.” – Lass Everitt, Director of One Pulse for America, a national gun violence awareness organization.
Over the past ten years, six of the worst mass shootings in America have happened right here in Texas. Police officers, military personnel, worshippers, shoppers, and students have all been caught in the crosshairs of mass shooters who used high capacity firearms to commit mass murder. While many advocates and parents want legislators to step up and enact policies to protect our children and police, some legislators have actually voted to make it harder for law enforcement to stop mass shooters.
State Representative Roland Gutierrez (D – San Antonio) is one of them. Gutierrez, who is currently running for State Senate in District 19, voted in favor of HB 2286, which would prohibit the State of Texas from enforcing federal gun safety laws, specifically with respect to firearm suppressors, commonly known as silencers, not once, but twice.
A silencer, when attached to a gun, gives the explosive flash of gas and pressure which propels a bullet a space to expand into and dissipate. The result is a dampened or suppressed sound, and less-jarring recoil. (Hear the difference here).
Moms Demand Action, a national gun safety group, organized against the bill, arguing it would make it more difficult for people to know there was a mass shooting underway. Police organizations, like the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas also testified on the bill in committee, saying the law would make it difficult for law enforcement who are members of federal task forces to uphold a state law which conflicts with federal law.
While advocates for loosening restrictions claim a suppressor will protect health and safety (reduced sound will protect the shooter’s hearing), opponents call it reckless. A few weeks after Gutierrez’s vote, 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in Virginia, in which the gunman used a silencer. In the aftermath of that shooting, even President Trump expressed concern over the use of silencers and was open to considering a ban on the devices.
Fortunately, the Texas silencer legislation that Gutierrez voted for in the House, died in the State Senate and did not become law. Gutierrez claims gun safety is a priority issue for him, but his actions – his votes – speak louder than his words. As long as legislators don’t prioritize public safety, Texans – and the first responders who protect us – will continue to be at risk.