Grassroots Group Aims To Change Gun Laws In Texas, But Is The Lone Star State Ready?

Hundreds of moms from all over Texas gathered on Austin Capitol steps this past weekend. The "Texas Rally for Gun Sense" was mirroring President Obama's continuing call for universal background checks, assault rifle and high capacity magazine bans. But is Texas ready?

Gavriella Roisman is a mom to three kids and a member of the Houston chapter of “Moms Demand Action“, the group who rallied at the State Capitol over the weekend. Right after the shootings in Newtown, Roisman quit her job to volunteer full-time on changing gun laws in Texas. Her commitment comes from her personal experience losing her father to gun violence when he was held up at an ATM. An incident which left her pretty anti-guns, but her husband has a different relationship with firearms and would consider owning one.

“I have to say in full disclosure my husband actually grew up shooting firearms with his dad at a range. He’s never owned one for personal protection it’s been a point of contention in our marriage.”

They do agree on trying to eliminate opportunities for random acts of violence by strengthening gun laws.

And they’re not alone. Houston Mayor Annise Parker is a gun owner but gave a written statement at the rally supporting many of the same ideas as President Obama. She also added her name to the “Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns” website along with mayors from several other Texas cities including Austin and Brownsville.

Even with support like this Roisman is skeptical about laws changing this session.

“This is something that probably won’t change enough in my lifetime, but if we put enough work into it now it’ll change in my kid’s lifetime and that’s what matters.”

So where does Texas fall in the gun discussion? A recent poll from UT and the Texas Tribune indicates that the general consensus is a preference for status quo with 52% of people wanting laws to be less strict or stay as they are. Jim Henson who co-directed the poll says what was really surprising was the numbers surrounding background checks.

“We explicitly said including gun shows and private sales: 61% said they strongly supported it; 17% said they somewhat supported it. So even among people who are gun owners and Republicans, we found that the consensus point in the state is for background checks that are keyed on criminality and mental health and that’s important.”

There is a pending Senate bill and mirroring House bill for this in the Texas Legislature to be debated this week as a similar federal discussion begins.

If the Senate’s January meeting on an assault weapons’ ban is anything to go by, there’ll be sparks flying from Washington. Keeping the fires of Moms Demand Action and Gavriella Roisman burning so gun violence stays front and foremost in the eyes of Texas.

“I feel personally responsible that having been impacted by gun violence and not having done more that my silence contributed to what’s happening now.”


*This story was updated on April 8th, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.

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