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Crime & Justice

Travis County DA Launches Firearm Surrender Policy

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
/
KUT
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, seen here in 2017, announced Wednesday that his prosecutors will now ask judges to require high-risk offenders to surrender any weapons as a condition of their bond.

Prosecutors with the Travis County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday will begin asking judges to require that some offenders release and surrender firearms as a condition of their bond.

District Attorney José Garza said prosecutors will make the request for people at high-risk of reoffending to ensure they “don't have access to a firearm while their case is pending, or while they are on community supervision.”

“Starting today, we have protocols in place to ensure that surrender happens,” he said Wednesday. “And to ensure those firearms are safely stored and that a person accused does not have access to them.”

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza said her office implemented a similar firearm surrender policy in March. It requires offenders in certain cases — including family violence or those who pose a threat to a crime victim or the public — to forfeit firearms within 48 hours as a condition of their bond.

“This includes cases that involved the use of a firearm, the presence of a firearm, threats of violence and threats of suicide,” she said.

Garza said getting firearms away from offenders in a timely manner is “an essential dynamic” to reducing further violence.

“We know that an abuser's access to a firearm poses a serious threat to victims and to the general public,” she said.

Weapons will be surrendered to the Travis County Constable Precinct 5 in downtown Austin. Constable Carlos Lopez said his office has been participating in a similar surrender policy since 2017.

Lopez said the court will provide defendants with instructions to surrender their firearms and his office will schedule an appointment. A receipt will be provided for the firearm surrender and it will be stored until further notice.

He said one of two things will then happen: the firearm will be returned as ordered by the court, “or, it will be destroyed as ordered by the court."

District Attorney Garza said the new policy is “just a start" and added that there is still much work to be done to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

“This is a common sense policy. We know that reducing access to guns is one of the most effective ways to reduce gun violence,” he said.

Got a tip? Email Jerry Quijano at jerry@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.

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