HOUSTON – Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia held a news conference Tuesday to release new data showing an increase in guns being used in homicides in Harris County.
This comes ahead of the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston next week.
According to data from the county’s Institute for Forensic Sciences, the percentage of homicides involving a gun increased from 76% in 2018 to 84% in 2021. Preliminary data from 2022 shows that guns have been involved in 87% of homicides. KPRC2 requested data from 2019 and 2022, which the Institute for Forensic Sciences said the county had not requested. KPRC2 is still waiting for those numbers.
Additionally, Hidalgo’s office said 2021 data showed that Black residents were disproportionately victims of gun homicides, comprising 55% of all gun homicides in the county.
“Over the past couple of weeks, our nation has had to endure yet another spate of mass shootings and tragedies driven by gun violence,” Hidalgo said, mentioning the recent deadly shootings in Buffalo, Milwaukee, and the shooting at a flea market in northwest Harris County. “We cannot talk about addressing violent crime without also addressing the role guns play in violent crime.”
Hidalgo’s office said research shows states with weaker gun laws suffer from higher rates of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides, and accidental killings. Between 2011 and 2020, data suggested that the rate of gun homicides in Texas increased by 90%, the judge said.
Watch Tuesday’s full press conference below:
“The reason is simple -- there is a very powerful gun lobby that cares more about their own special interests than the safety of that community, and that very powerful gun lobby feels so emboldened as to have a major conference right here in Harris County,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo announced her intent to introduce a resolution dedicating the month of June “Gun Violence Prevention Month” to honor the lives of the thousands of victims who have lost their lives to gun violence in Harris County.
“This is about ensuring that people understand the responsibility that goes with gun ownership,” Garcia said. “It speaks to the reality that a gun left unlocked, left within the reach of a child, left unsecured in a vehicle can ultimately cause harm in a home, in a family, but also be at the reach of an evildoer who will use that weapon against one of our law enforcement officers or another member of the community.”
According to data released by the CDC this month, firearm deaths have surpassed car accidents as the number one killer of young people in the United States.
“If you want to be for guns, encourage common-sense regulations, common-sense safety measures, and fund law enforcement to go after those who will use those gun switchers, those Glock switchers that we have seen that cause incredible harm,” Garcia said.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement in response saying,” Politicians like Judge Hidalgo embrace policies that release violent criminals onto streets without a hint of justice while the NRA champions the right of law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their homes. While Hidalgo continues to side with criminals, the NRA makes no apologies for standing with law-abiding citizens.”