In the Wake of Gun Violence, Mayor Turner’s Commission against Gun Violence Releases Recommendations

ABOVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner and HPD Chief Art Acevedo walk in solidarity with March For Our Lives Youth to address gun violence

Nearly three months after 17-year-old, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, walked into Santa Fe High School on May 18 wearing a trench coat and used a Remington 970 shotgun and a .38 caliber pistol to fatally murder eight students and two teachers, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that he has received the much-anticipated recommendations submitted to him from the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence – a diverse group he established shortly after the Santa Fe shooting, in solidarity with the national student-led movement March for Our Lives.

The Commission was charged with developing and proposing specific recommendations to improve gun safety in our schools, neighborhoods and communities through action on the local, state and federal levels. The Commission provided recommendations in their report that focused on making schools and communities safer, increasing public awareness for the safe use and storage of firearms, and relying on technology to prevent campus shootings.

The Commission recommended that the Houston Independent School District (HISD) place a police officer on every campus. They also recommended using mobile apps to report and prevent school shootings, providing additional mental and behavioral resources for students and school personnel, instituting initiatives to curb gun violence in cases of domestic violence and placing a focus on more community based safety programs.

These recommendations from the Commission come at an extremely critical time, as yet another mass shooting took place this past weekend during a Madden video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I am impressed with the commission’s recommendations and the holistic approach to reducing gun violence and addressing gun safety issues in our schools and the community,” said Mayor Turner.

The Commission’s recommendations also address primary and secondary prevention of gun violence in schools. However, many extend beyond the classroom and are relevant across the community.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence

“There’s a lot of passion in this commission and many people who want to help,” Commission Chair Haley Carter said. “We had input from not only our members but also members of the community, school districts, law enforcement, universities, faith-based organizations and others.”

During a news conference to announce the Commission’s recommendations, Mayor Turner also announced that the city of Houston would be partnering with Microsoft as it works to create a safe building and safe campus solution to help provide information to people in crises scenarios.

The solution includes additional sensors (such as light indicators, emergency buttons, and sound sensors) as well as mobile and web applications to allow security personnel to communicate with people in a crises area. Houston was named a Microsoft “Smart City” earlier this year.

Back in May, Mayor Turner appointed the 37-member Commission, which is comprised of students, parents, physicians, law enforcement officials, gun-rights advocates, gun violence victims and members of faith-based and civil rights organizations.

The Commission will present a second report later this year that will focus on making substantive changes on the state and federal levels.

The link to the initial report can be found at http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/gun-violence-commission-recommendations.pdf.