Mayor, Police Chief support gun background checks


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Posted on March 28, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 28 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN -- It is the debate that has dominated politics, local and national, for months: Gun control.

After the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut the debate on gun control became heated. 

Thursday afternoon, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Police Chief Art Acevedo made it clear where they stand.

"We're here to support the president and vice president in urging Congress to pass comprehensive and enforceable background check legislation," said Mayor Leffingwell. 

"It will ensure that we have one way of doing it, in all 50 states," added Police Chief Acevedo. "Unfortunately, no matter how tough gun laws are in one city, in one state, all people have to do is go to the internet, go to another city in another state to purchase firearms they're not entitled to."  

Standing with them is John Woods, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre. His girlfriend, 22-year-old Maxine Turner, was one of the 32 people killed in the deadliest school shooting in the United States.

Woods is working with several groups to push for background checks.

"Maxine's death was preventable. It didn't have to happen. Her killer had been ruled a danger to himself by a court of law which made it illegal for him to buy guns," said Woods. "When the shooter at Virginia Tech went to buy his guns, all he had to do was check a box on the forms that said he'd never been ruled a danger to himself."

Guns also can be purchased over the internet or at gun shows from private sellers without checks. Which means people with criminal records have access.

Acevedo says 6.6 million firearms were sold nationally without checks last year.

"It does not add up. You cannot argue against universal background checks with a straight face and tell me that you are in favor of public safety," said Acevedo. 

But their call for action was not met without opposition. Michael Cargill owns Central Texas Gun Works. He says his store runs background checks but tighter gun control isn't the answer.

"This is about control and for some individuals to say that as a person I cannot sell a firearm to my child or my father can't sell a firearm to me," Cargill said. "What they're trying to do today is not what's going to stop crime. You cannot legislate crazy."

Leffingwell, who is a veteran, and Acevedo say they support gun ownership and that they just want to protect the Second Amendment by keeping guns only in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

"You either stand for the love and peace of the people in our nation, or you stand with criminals," Acevedo said.

Arguments that will now have to be heard on Capitol Hill.