In split vote, Harris County approves resolution supporting universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales

In a split 3-2 vote, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of legislation requiring universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales, at its Nov. 12 meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)
In a split 3-2 vote, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of legislation requiring universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales, at its Nov. 12 meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)

In a split 3-2 vote, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of legislation requiring universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales, at its Nov. 12 meeting. (Courtesy Fotolia)

In a split 3-2 vote, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of legislation requiring universal background checks for all Texas firearm sales, including those involving an unlicensed gun dealer and stranger-to-stranger gun sales, at its Nov. 12 meeting.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who presented the resolution, expressed support for Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick’s recent actions advocating for increased regulation on background checks as they relate to firearm sales.

“I applaud Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick’s efforts for taking a lead in this important issue that’s confronting many, if not all, American communities,” Garcia said. “This resolution is to give support to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to have the kind of leadership that we really need to see more often, to take his politics and transcend his party.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said he too supported the resolution, calling it a "bipartisan, common-sense proposal."

“This is a good step and I applaud it,” Ellis said. “It means a lot for us to go on record supporting it.”


However, the Republican members of the court voiced opposition to the resolution and voted against it. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said he believed the resolution was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“I had 395 [people from Precinct 4] that came and contacted our office telling us that they were against this resolution; I had 11...saying that they were in favor of it,” Cagle said. “I personally believe that we need to be pursuing criminals, not law-abiding citizens...I do not believe that this resolution honors our Second Amendment.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack also expressed opposition saying the resolution exceeded Harris County’s jurisdiction.

“If the representatives—state and [federal]—want to pursue [universal background checks] in Austin or in Washington, they have the power and the right to do it, but this is not an issue that Harris County Commissioners Court, in my opinion, needs to be [involved in],” Radack said.

Prior to the motion carrying, County Judge Lina Hidalgo reiterated the nonbinding status of the resolution and voted in support of its passage.

“The message is clear that Harris County will not stand by, as does the country and the state, in the face of gun violence, so we must take a stand,” Hidalgo said. “We have a voice and so we’ll use it.”

In addition to the universal background checks resolution, the commissioners also voted to formally expand the “Safe Surrender” pilot program, which was piloted in the 280th Family Court. As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the program provides a formal firearm surrender protocol for individuals charged with domestic violence.

The action expanded the program to 22 felony courts and allocated $247,000 to be used for the expansion process, including the addition of two positions to Harris County Sheriff’s Office, as well as funding for gun storage equipment, according to a press release.


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