Gun Violence

A member of the church security team fires at a target at a shooting range in Krugerville.
Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

KRUGERVILLE — Liberty Hill resident T.J. Wagner yelled commands at his friend James Johnson in an empty classroom at a building in North Texas earlier this month: “Face the wall! Feet apart! Hands behind your back!”

Within seconds, Wagner handcuffed Johnson, leading him out of the room with one hand gripping the metal cuffs and the other squeezing his right bicep to guide him out. Then, the two switched places and it was Johnson’s turn to detain his buddy.

The shooting at a church in White Settlement nearly two weeks ago is just one of many incidents of public gun violence Americans have faced in recent years. 

Traditionally, sanctuary has meant "safety." But decades of mass shootings in places of worship have shaken that faith.

Twenty years ago, it was Fort Worth's Wedgwood Baptist — seven churchgoers dead. Then came 2015 and Charleston, S.C. — nine dead. Two years ago, Sutherland Springs — 26 dead. Last year, Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — 11 dead. And just this weekend, in White Settlement outside Fort Worth — two church members dead. All of this has led sanctuaries to harden their defenses in hopes of saving lives.

The congregation of West Freeway Church of Christ gathered in the sanctuary Monday night – the first time since a gunman opened fire during a service Sunday morning, killing two church members. Outside, dozens gathered at a candlelight vigil.

Authorities have identified the gunman in Sunday's suburban Fort Worth church shooting as 43-year-old Keith Thomas Kinnunen of River Oaks, a small city near Fort Worth. Police have not determined a motive for the shooting. 

A gunman who opened fire Sunday morning at a suburban Fort Worth church was killed by two parishioners, authorities say. Two people died from the wounds they sustained at the hands of the shooter.

Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

More money is about to flow into eight surveillance centers located across across the state. The Texas Department of Public Safety helps oversee these intelligence-gathering hubs, known as "fusion centers," but it doesn't talk much about what they do.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo
Austin Price / The Texas Tribune

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called out prominent Texas Republicans on Monday for opposing gun restriction legislation to close the so-called "boyfriend loophole" after one of his officers was killed over the weekend responding to a domestic violence call.

A memorial made up of 22 aluminum
Courtesy of Walmart

A memorial was unveiled Saturday honoring the 22 people who were killed in the Aug. 3 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.

Armando Morales

Eighty-one percent of Latino voters in Texas are concerned about racism-motivated gun violence and that the Latino community might be targeted again in attacks similar to the mass shooting in El Paso, according to a survey sponsored by the gun control group Giffords and the progressive group Latino Victory Project.

Former El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke
Michael Minasi for KUT

Beto O'Rourke may not be running for statewide office anymore, but it's been difficult to tell in recent days.

Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio

Twenty-nine people died in two mass shootings in Texas last month. What is the response from Texans and their political representatives? Will these latest violent episodes move the needle on gun policy?

State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, in 2017.
Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain drew fierce ire Thursday night for a gun-related tweet that many considered to be a death threat against Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
Jesus Rosales for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued eight executive orders in response to last month’s mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa.

Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

Students in Odessa returned to class on Tuesday, many of them dressed in yellow. It was planned by Odessa High School’s student council to show support, and convey a sense of hope, after the recent mass shooting that killed one of their classmates, 15-year-old Leilah Hernandez.

A memorial for victims of a mass shooting
Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio

Democrats in the Texas House are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special legislative session to address gun violence — a move designed to place even more pressure on the state’s top GOP official to act in the wake of two deadly mass shootings just weeks apart.

Walmart Announces It Will Stop Selling Handgun Ammunition

Sep 3, 2019
Walmart employees near a memorial for the shooting victims
Stella M. Chávez / KERA

Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition and publicly request customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it.

Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio

From Texas Standard:

Brooks Landgraf, who represents Odessa in the Texas House, says the last couple days have been “absolutely heartbreaking.” But, he says, he's also heartened by how people came together to show support for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting.

On Aug. 3, 2019, a shooter at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, took the lives of 22, injured over two dozen and changed a whole community. The shooting was the worst targeting Latinx in modern U.S. history.

But as some survivors begin to process the horror, there might be a glimmer of hope: Those without a green card may now be eligible for a special visa, designed to protect crime victims. 

Increasing Numbers Of Americans Support Gun Background Checks

Aug 23, 2019
Guns on a shelf at a store
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

In the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, public debate once again turned to what Congress should do to reduce gun violence.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday convened the first meeting of the newly formed Texas Safety Commission, ramping up the state's efforts to devise policy solutions in the wake of the deadly shooting targeting immigrants and Hispanics earlier this month in El Paso.

Earlier this month, Margie Reckard, 63, was gunned down along with 21 others in the El Paso, Texas, massacre that authorities believe was driven by racial hatred. Two weeks later, strangers amassed by the hundreds to honor Reckard and surround her widower, Antonio Basco.

Gov. Greg Abbott, seen here at a press conference last year, says there will be an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive for COVID-19.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Nearly two weeks after a mass shooting in El Paso, Gov. Greg Abbott promised that his office, and the Legislature, would take appropriate action to stop future tragedies — but quashed any speculation that he’d call lawmakers back for a special session to make it happen.

Updated at 1:57 p.m. ET

On the presidential campaign trail in Iowa and on the op-ed page of The New York Times, former Vice President Joe Biden has made the case for going back to a nationwide ban on assault weapons and making it "even stronger."

Some have reacted with quizzical expressions: "Back?" "Stronger?"

I spent last weekend and a few more days reporting from El Paso. Before leaving, I wanted to see the one place I hadn't been to: the makeshift memorial outside the Walmart where 22 people were killed.

After the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, gun control is again at the forefront of the political conversation.

President Trump has expressed openness to a federal red flag law and for "meaningful" background checks.

El Paso Shooting Suspect Said He Targeted Mexicans, Police Say

Aug 9, 2019
Courtesy of Armando Morales

The man accused of carrying out last weekend's deadly mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso confessed to officers while he was surrendering and later explained he had been targeting Mexicans, authorities say.

Michael Minasi for KUT

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro announced a "plan to disarm hate" Friday morning, less than a week after a deadly shooting in El Paso that targeted Hispanic immigrants.

Walmart Pulls Violent Game Displays After El Paso Shooting; No Change In Gun Sales

Aug 9, 2019
Walmart employees near a memorial for the shooting victims
Stella M. Chávez / KERA

Walmart is removing from its stores nationwide signs, displays or videos that depict violence following a mass shooting at one of its stores in Texas, though it has not changed its policy on gun sales.

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