Public safety commission tackles gun control
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Following the Sandy Hook mass shooting in Connecticut late last year, the gun control debate can now be heard in Washington, inside the State Capitol and even at Austin City Hall.
Monday, the Public Safety Commission unanimously passed several recommendations to council, including one that would require gun show vendors to run background checks before all sales.
"Military style assault weapons and high capacity magazines are made to kill human beings as fast as possible,” Kent Anschutz with the Public Safety Commission said. “There is no other legitimate use on the streets of Austin, Texas for those types of weapons."
Other recommendations include a limit on where in the city people can carry unlicensed handguns, and a gun buyback program with the help of Austin police.
Apart from needing council approval, the commission admits cities and counties are "severely limited by state law as to what they can do."
"I think the issue becomes one of, does the city have the authority to outlaw that and what would be the consequences in terms of enforcing the ordinance?" Public Safety Commission Chairman Michael Lauderdale said. "The concern is whether or not that is an appropriate action for the city or is it a state action or is it something that is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution."
Apart from the gun control debate, the commission has also called a team of medical experts to diagnose the mental health care climate.
"Do I think that we have I higher risk than another community that someone is going to commit a mass casualty incident at some time? I don't think so,” Dr. Chris Ziebell with Brackenridge Hospital said. “I feel like we do find these individuals regularly and present them into the health care system, we just don't do it in the best and most cost effective way that we could."
No recommendation was made to council concerning the city's mental health programs, but the Public Safety Commission did ask the medical experts to propose improvements.