On Monday while speaking with reporters Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican lawmakers for not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and for failing to take any real action against gun violence.
Acevedo’s comments were emotional as he reminded McConnell and Senate Republicans that children “are getting gunned down in this country every single day.”
Acevedo’s comments to the press were made as the Houston Police Department was preparing to escort the body of one of their own, Sgt. Chris Brewster, who was killed in the line of duty, to the funeral home. Brewster, 32, was shot and killed while responding to a call on Saturday.
“I don’t want to hear about how much they support law enforcement,” Acevedo stated. “I don’t want to hear about how much they care about lives and the sanctity of lives yet, we all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and others are not getting into a room and having a conference committee with the House and getting the Violence Against Women’s Act (passed) is because the NRA doesn’t like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends. And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend. So, you’re either here for women and children and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts, or you’re here for the National Rifle Association.”
Acevedo added: “So I don’t want to see their little smug faces talking about how much they care about law enforcement when I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off the NRA. Make up your minds, whose side are you on? Gun manufacturers, the gun lobby, or the children that are getting gunned down in this country every single day.”
The Violence Against Women Act, which was enacted in 1994, and its reauthorization has stalled in Congress. The bill provides grants and support to various groups that work on issues related to sexual assault and domestic violence and prevention.
Back in April, the House reauthorized the act for another five years. Since then it has sit ignored by McConnel and the Republicans in the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa worked on a Senate version of the act, but discussions about it quickly fell apart. Back in November, Ernst introduced her own version of the VAWA that extends the act by 10 years and Feinstein introduced a Senate version of the House bill, but both versions were ignored.
A spokesperson for Ted Cruz recently stated that the congressman “is currently reviewing the Violence Against Women Act legislation in the Senate.”
“For many years, Senator Cruz has worked in law enforcement, helping lead the fight to ensure that violent criminals — and especially sexual predators who target women and children — face the very strictest punishment,” the spokesman wrote in an email that was sent to CNN.
On Monday, Cornyn’s office attempted to blame Democrats for the delayed action.
“The Violence Against Women Act is still fully funded despite what the Chief implied. And he’s got it backward — Democrats in DC walked away from negotiations and that’s when it fell apart,” Cornyn’s office said in an email. They also pointed to Cornyn’s remarks last month in which he said Democrats “took the easy way out and simply walked away and introduced their own partisan reauthorization, one that they know has no chance of passing.”
“Despite the games being played here, my Republican colleagues and I are working to put in the hard work that it takes to actually accomplish something and legislate,” he said at the time.
Cornyn’s office added that they believe that Arturo Solis, 25, should not have been in possession of a gun due to a 2015 conviction in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for assaulting a family member.
A Texas law prohibits a person convicted of a misdemeanor for family violence from possessing or transferring firearms and ammunition.
Acevedo says that Solis was armed with a semi-automatic pistol when he was arrested at a school near the scene of the shooting.
Democrats have repeatedly expressed anger and frustration with Mitch McConnell for not pushing gun control legislation.