El Paso lawmakers call for assault weapons ban in wake of massacre

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso lawmakers are urging passage of stricter gun-control laws in light of Saturday’s massacre of now-22 people at a local Walmart.

“Let this tragedy not be in vain so we can finally have a reckoning in this country, take actions that save lives. House representatives passed two bipartisan common-sense gun laws and they’re laying at the doorstep of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas).

Escobar, who represents El Paso, added that an assault weapons ban is needed to prevent mass murders. El Paso Police recovered an AK-47 rifle from the scene of Saturday’s attack that killed 21 and injured more than two dozen other people.

“That assault weapon has no business being in neighborhoods or in communities. … I think the Senate needs to act on what we have provided,” she said.

Democratic state lawmakers expressed frustration that the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature has relaxed gun laws in recent years, instead of tightening controls to prevent gun misuse.

A participant at a Sunday night rally to remember the victims of the Walmart massacre holds a sign calling for unity. (Photo by Julian Resendiz)

“Nobody wants to talk about gun violence prevention measures,” said State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso). “We need to insist that we pass common-sense gun violence prevention laws like the Red Flag law, the Protective Order Bill that I introduced but which didn’t even get a hearing. (That bill) is to deny guns to those who have a history of violence or have demonstrated violence or threats to themselves or to others.”

Rodriguez also called to stricter penalties for adults who don’t keep guns away from children and those guns end up being used by the minors to hurt themselves or others.

State Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso), said he supports tighter gun controls in Texas, which won’t be easy to accomplish, but needs to be done.

“We need to have the courage to do this because people are dying and that is very sad,” he said. “El Paso elected officials are united on this and will continue to fight to protect our community,” he said at a Sunday evening vigil to honor the victims of the massacre.

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