State Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston), a leading candidate for Mayor of Houston, has twice expressed his dissatisfaction with Houston being the largest major city where openly carrying handguns will be allowed once the law goes into effect Jan 1, 2016.
At the Texas Tribune’s 84th legislative review, Turner made a comment that generated further interest in his prospective plans as mayor of the Bayou City. He started by saying, “It is important for not just this state, but this country to get past our obsession with guns.”
Much like Houston’s current head executive, Mayor Annise Parker, Turner can be expected to push a personal agenda. “I don’t want it in the City of Houston…in the next legislative session, if given the opportunity, I will come back to Austin (as Mayor) and ask my senator, please do not impose these laws on the City of Houston,” said Turner.
There wasn’t much discussion around Turner’s admission initially. However, when he spoke with the Houston Property Rights Association, we took the opportunity to further press him on the issue.
Asking his stance on the open carry legislation, and if he supported it in the City of Houston, Turner once again said he was against it. “Other major cities have been allowed to say no…that exception wasn’t allowed in this bill,” he insisted. And when asked if he would advocate for local opt-out provisions, he replied “yes.”
Other candidates are highlighting shocking crime statistics such as the infinitesimal 8% of robberies that are solved by the Houston Police Department, even quoting the assertion of Houston as the “robbery capitol of the nation.”
We reached out to Turner’s campaign for further comment on his statement. While his media team says he has not created a specific plan, it was confirmed that if elected as Mayor, he intends on petitioning the state legislature to carve out an exemption for Houston from the open carry law.
Though Turner doesn’t hesitate to use his experience in the legislature as a campaign talking point, he doesn’t appear to believe the laws that body enacted should apply to the city he hopes to manage.
Trivializing tragic events to garner support for his effort, Turner invoked the shootings in Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Charleston saying, “There are some people who will quietly walk into a church, a school, or a theater and they will act out their emotions.”
Countering Turner, State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) reassured the crowd saying, “we are the 45th state in the nation to pass open carry, we’re going to be fine.” He also emphasized that individuals should be left to decide whether or not to exercise armed self-defense, “…the right to have this opportunity, whether or not most in this room would take advantage of that right, but the fact that you have that right is very important.”
Turner responded with rhetoric advanced by many anti-gun proponents, citing how dangerous guns can be, but not before saying, “It’s not guns who kill people, it’s who we are.”
Again, citing actual facts, Creighton drew a stark comparison between Chicago and Houston. Chicago, a city with no gun stores in city limits and notoriously strict gun control laws, has much higher gun-crime per capita than that of Houston, a community with over one thousand gun stores within city limits.
For some, the gun debate was settled with the close of session, but Turner plans to resurrect the issue in the City of Houston by seeking an exemption from the state. With glaring problems facing the cash strapped city, it appears Turner intends to push a largely singular agenda based on his personal disdain for advances made by Second Amendment advocates.