The day after four Houston police officers were shot while serving a search warrant in southeast Houston, Chief Art Acevedo once again called on lawmakers to find ways to reduce gun violence.
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“I would express my personal frustration at lawmakers that know we have a public health epidemic in this country we call gun violence,” Acevedo said at a news conference Tuesday morning related to the shooting. “It doesn’t just impact law enforcement. It crushes communities, tears apart families, cuts lives short, every single day.”
Veteran narcotics officers broke down the door of a suspected drug den, armed with a warrant and hoping to arrest heroin dealers operating out of the Pecan Park home. They were met by a hail of gunfire, instead, as one of the suspects inside unleashed a barrage of bullets that wounded four officers, two critically.
There are 3,353 gun deaths per year in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 609 children in Texas are killed or injured by guns each year, per the Department of State Health Services.
This is far from the first time that Acevedo has spoken out urging policymakers to reform gun policies.
After the Santa Fe shooting in May 2018, which killed 10 people and wounded 13 others, the police chief took to Twitter, excoriating elected officials for failing “to enact common sense statutes & policies & continue to fail our families & especially our children.”
His statements were soon refuted by the National Rifle Association, and Acevedo ended up engaging in arguments with the NRA’s Dana Loesch and Grant Stinchfield via Twitter.
“@ArtAcevedo plays the part of a police chief … he says he wants to go after criminals, but for him apparently the easiest way to do that is to make new criminals that are easy to catch — make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners,” NRATV tweeted last May.
Acevedo told the Houston Chronicle last year that the nation needs a “comprehensive approach” to rein in gun violence, including a national standard for background checks before all sales — including at gun shows. He also called for “real consequences” for buyers and sellers trying to circumvent such checks, strict mental health requirements to notify law enforcement agencies if someone is a potential threat, and stricter requirements for storing firearms.
“Gun violence is preventable. There are proven policies that work,” Texas Gun Sense, an advocacy group for reforming gun violence, stated in a press release Monday. “Texas Gun Sense is at the Texas Legislature right now advocating for common sense, evidence-based policies that protect Texans from gun violence.”
Back at Memorial Hermann Hospital Tuesday morning, Acevedo told elected officials to save their prayers.
“I appreciate your prayers, but frankly, we’ve got a community to pray for us,” he said. “The question is, what are policy makers willing to do besides prayers to address a public health epidemic?”
Staff writer St. John Barned-Smith contributed to this report.