Is there anything Houston can do about gun violence?

Not much, unfortunately.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said he wants state lawmakers to give cities and counties more flexibility to address gun violence in response to mass shootings this month that killed 31 people, including 22 in El Paso.

Turner made the remarks at City Hall while calling for a special session of the Texas Legislature on the issue of gun violence.

Current state law mostly forbids local governments from passing measures that restrict gun usage.

Among the items Turner said he would like to pursue are background checks on firearms sales at gun shows, including those that have been held at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“If I could do it today, I would do it today,” Turner told reporters. “But the state has preempted us.”


In March, Turner announced the city was establishing a task force to combat local gun violence. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has been an outspoken advocate for stricter gun laws, telling Congress earlier this year that gun violence is “one of the greatest public health epidemics facing the nation.”

Turner also allocated $1 million for police overtime pay in April to help officers fight gun violence.

Turner’s comments Wednesday echo those made last week by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who floated the idea of ending the use of county property for gun shows. The county, however, has no power to enact ordinances.

Hidalgo said Wednesday she is working with Turner on a proposal to take “whatever action we can.”

“We are hamstrung by the legislature. They have passed laws specifically preventing us from making policy around gun safety,” Hidalgo said. “We’re really looking under every nook and cranny for what can be done.”

Dru Stevenson, a law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, said the state’s lock on local action largely is absolute.

“The state preempts municipalities from having any type of gun control regulation at all,” Stevenson said.

Even Hidalgo’s idea about ending use of county buildings for gun shows likely would not pass muster, according to Stevenson, due to how strict the state preemptions are.

“They’re more likely to get away with it informally than if they adopt a policy,” he said. “Behind the scenes pressure or incentives might work, but the gun shows are big and lucrative for the conference centers.”

There may be some other things the city could try, but the story doesn’t suggest anything interesting. As with a number of other vexing issues, the real solution lies in another level of government. Really, both state and federal for this one, but there’s probably more direct action that could be taken at the state level, if only by undoing the restrictions that have been imposed. That means the first real chance to get something done will be at the federal level, if all goes well in 2020. We’re not getting anything done in Austin until Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick, at the very least, have been sent packing.

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22 Responses to Is there anything Houston can do about gun violence?

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    As expected, Turner and Acevedo either have never been to a gun show at the GRB, or they have and they are still just parroting a misleading narrative even after they have seen the truth. Virtually all sales of guns at the GRB and other ‘shows’ are made by FFL dealers who pay for table space. All the sales they make require a background check. That’s the vast majority of all transactions there, a ffl selling to an individual with a check. Then there’s individuals bringing in guns to (mainly) trade to one of those ffl dealers, so when the ffl dealer resells it….boom, background check.

    There are probably a few peer to peer sales there, but even private sellers like that are going to expect to see a CCW card from the buyer. I really doubt MS-13 and other street gangs are in there buying up the few guns offered for sale privately, because they aren’t going to have the ccw ID.

    If Sly and Art really wanted to stop gun violence, they’d be more proactive about catching and incarcerating burglars and robbers. That’s where the guns get procured by criminals….they steal them, from houses and cars. Make catching burglars a priority, and maybe do those Harding St. style raids on the homes of burglars and robbers you catch. That will get guns out of the hands of criminals, more than just parroting feel good, but useless tropes.

    Buyers at the GRB ARE ALREADY being background checked, y’all. People buying guns over the internet also have to be background checked. Their purchases have to go to a ffl, and the transfer has to be done between the local ffl and the buyer. Another myth.

    And then there’s Lina. LOL. The reason the state passed those laws is to keep clueless people like Lina from implementing useless virtue signaling laws, like banning legitimate events from public buildings. Hey, maybe I really hate the Texans, because they broke my heart. I’ll just pass a law prohibiting the Texans from renting any county buildings. It’s so ridiculous, Lina should feel shame for even saying it, but of course, she has zero self awareness, so she thinks she should get a gold star just for saying it. Get your HCSO to make burglary and robbery a priority, and search the homes and cars of people arrested for burglary and robbery. THAT is how you get guns away from criminals, not by harassing the law abiding public, Lina.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Regarding Dru, the South Texas College of Law professor’s idea of just discriminating against the gun shows on ‘the down low’……really Dru? Is this the kind of quality instruction today’s budding lawyers are getting from you? If I was a gun show promoter, I’d get together with the craft show, cat show, and other non gun show promoters, and compare notes about their experiences trying to rent county facilities. Seems like that would be one heck of a discrimination suit against the county if it became apparent that there was behind the scenes pressure to keep the gun show promoters out.

  3. Joel says:

    Have the comments here been ceded to long rants by a single whackadoodle?

    Cities should be passing ordinances and/or suing the state over these sorts of local control issues. Make the state defend its absurd laws in court, rather than just running around scared.

    Why should some state rep from podunk get to tell Houston what to do?

  4. Manny says:

    I agree with Joel.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    As usual, no one is willing to refute my assertions.

    “Among the items Turner said he would like to pursue are background checks on firearms sales at gun shows, including those that have been held at the George R. Brown Convention Center.”

    I challenge anyone here who truly believes that you can just walk into a gun show with cash and no ID, no CCW permit and no background check and walk out with a shopping cart full of guns, as Mayor Turner would have you believe, to go see for yourselves.

    I’ll buy a ticket for any of Kuff’s posters who wants to go on a field trip to see for themselves. Looks like tomorrow they are in Pasa-get-down-dena, and at the GRB in December.

    How about it, Joel, Manny? Wanna go see for yourselves if Mayor Turner is right? It’s a pretty specific claim he’s making, pretty easy to prove or disprove just by showing up and asking questions.

  6. Ross says:

    Joel and Manny, Houston is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, and exists only because the State allows it. There is no cause of action for Houston to sue and overturn the State preemption laws.

    Bill is pretty much 100% correct here. Gun shows are not the problem.

  7. Manny says:

    Ross as an owner of weapons of mass killings, AK or AM, I suggest you are slightly bias toward the ramblings of Bill.

    Can a private seller be part of a gun show? Yes, they are not required to do background checks.

    Texas does not regulate who can sell at gun shows, thus as many as 50% of sellers can be private.

    Thus as Joel stated Have the comments here been ceded to long rants by a single whackadoodle?

    Bill has a Trump problem, he lies constantly about almost everything, you sometimes join in promoting the lies.

  8. Bill Daniels says:


    From your own link:

    “Presently, a private seller can rent table space and carry a “private sale,” or other sign that indicates to purchasers that no paperwork, background check, or recordkeeping are required.”

    Let’s take a field trip to Pasadena today. If we can find ONE person who has rented a table or booth that is selling GUNS (not gun parts, bb guns, replicas, magazines, accessories, beef jerky, leaf free gutters, clothing, ammo, knives, books, etc.) with no ID or background check required, I’ll never post here again, except a final farewell post in this thread to admit I was wrong.

    If we don’t find any booths or tables with people selling guns without ID and a background check, I’ll expect you to post up that you were wrong.

    We can settle this argument today. What time would you like to meet? I’m buying the tickets.

  9. Manny says:

    I will take the words of the Houston Police Department over that of Bill Daniels 365 1/4 days a year.

  10. Jason Hochman says:

    Texas has already very strict gun control law. If you want an open carry you need a separate permit from your concealed carry. Texas just got open carry about two years ago. In the state where I grew up, I could buy a gun and strap it on and walk out of the gun shop, no permit required. It’s been that way since the Second Amendment. I doubt that most of the drive by shooters are getting their guns at the gun show.

  11. Manny says:

    A trip begins by taking a first step.

  12. Ross says:

    Manny, you have no clue what I do or don’t own.

    Private owners don’t have a choice about background checks, they can’t get them done, since Federal law prohibits that action.

    There is no Texas law against firearms transactions between private parties. Given the security at gun shows, I doubt any criminals go there to transact business, since it’s much easier to steal firearms or respond to advertisements or work of mouth elsewhere.

    Acevedo is an idiot who never should have been hired. He’s one of Turner’s biggest mistakes, a narcissistic egomaniac who thinks he should be able to tell citizens what to do at every turn.
    I’ll still probably vote for Turner anyway, since the other options aren’t too appealing.

    @Jason, there is no separate permit for open carry of a handgun. Open carry of a long gun doesn’t require a permit.

  13. Manny says:

    Ross, I remember you stated you had an AK or something similar and that you used it scare off coyotes.

  14. Jules says:

    Ross, some states require background checks for private gun sales.

  15. Ross says:

    Manny, I believe I mentioned a friend with a ranch uses an AR on coyotes. He is considering getting a suppressor and a night vision scope to hunt feral hogs at night, since that combination allows for killing multiple hogs in a short time. The last time I was down there, we saw dozens of hogs, and they were tearing up 3 or more acres a night.

    Jules, Federal law prohibits use of the NICS background check system. States that force background checks for private sales force them to go through FFL dealers, who charge for the service, increasing the transaction costs. That means that a father giving a firearm to their adult child has to pay a fee, $25 is common, to make everything legal. I personally doubt those laws decrease crime at all, but increase the hassle factor tremendously.

  16. Jules says:

    Thanks, Ross, Walmart also declines to sell guns in those states, as doing background checks for private sales is too hard for their employees.

  17. Manny says:

    Ross, I misunderstood, apologies.

    My understanding an AK does not have sufficient power to penetrate the skins of feral hogs, I read that not to long ago.

  18. Bill Daniels says:


    Read about a reporter that (LOL, unsuccessfully) tried to buy a gun at Walmart. They aren’t just handing them out willy nilly to the unwashed, stinking masses.

    Manny, an AK absolutely CAN be used for hunting deer and hogs. I have a friend who actually has used a SKS (same caliber, less scary to look at) to hunt both. I’d link you to some articles but I’ve already used up my one link for Jules. As with any other gun, shot placement is important. No decent hunter wants to see an animal suffer needlessly, even feral hogs, which are an invasive, destructive, non native species.

  19. Manny says:

    Bill, one can use a sling shot to hunt feral hogs, also. The regular ammo on AR or AK whatever may work on smaller hogs, otherwise, special bullets are required, as the regular bullets will not penetrate sufficiently to get to vital organs. IF the aim is to kill not maim.

  20. Bill Daniels says:

    The biggest problem seems to be not with the gun, or with the cartridge caliber (although specific hunting ‘hot’ loads seem to be preferable, vs. just putting some steel cased milsurp down range), but with possibly running afoul of state or local hunting regulations regarding magazine capacity. You are correct that the larger hogs are harder to penetrate.

    I will concede up front that most hunters don’t use either the AK or AR platforms to hunt with, at least not here in Texas.

  21. Bill Daniels says:

    Ear, neck, and shoulder shots are preferred for a quick and humane dispatch of hogs. Obviously a straight on head shot works, too. When we slaughter animals in packing plants, we use a bolt gun to the head that more or less instantaneously renders the animal unconscious, so it doesn’t suffer any more than it has to.

  22. Jules says:

    Bill, don’t waste your links on me, won’t read them, don’t care what you think about anything.

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