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Texas Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Senator Cornyn’s Remarks on Unlicensed Gun Dealers

September 1, 2020

The Texas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements today in response to comments Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) made while visiting Odessa on the one-year mark of last year’s mass shooting which killed seven people and wounded at least 21 others. The lack of a background check requirement allowed the Midland-Odessa mass shooter to obtain a firearm from an unlicensed seller no questions asked – after he had already failed a background check at a dealer.

“Senator Cornyn’s proposed half measure would do little to address the causes of gun violence and is an insult to Texans like me who have felt the impacts of gun violence first-hand,” said Carla Byrne, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action and a gun violence survivor whose brother, Joe Griffith, was shot and killed in the Midland-Odessa mass shooting last year. “I’ve worked tirelessly to honor my brother’s memory by advocating for common-sense gun safety laws that will save lives, and Senator Cornyn has dishonored my brother’s memory with his weak attempts to change the subject.”

“If Senator Cornyn were serious about fighting back against the gun violence epidemic which kills more than 3,000 Texans every year, he’d support background checks on all gun sales,” said Paige Hoffer, a volunteer with Bellaire High School Students Demand Action. “Instead, he’s said that this life-saving policy makes him crazy. That’s why we’ll be working day in, day out to elect MJ Hegar and gun sense champions up and down the ballot this November.” 

In his remarks, Senator Cornyn – the Senate Majority Whip – said that “we need to make sure that we eliminate unlicensed firearm dealers,” even though federal law already prohibits  unlicensed firearm dealers from selling guns. Neither federal nor Texas law require background checks on guns sold by people who are not firearm dealers, such as people who offer guns for sale online or at gun shows – but provides little guidance on how many firearms a person can sell before they must obtain a license. The single most effective way to reduce the harm caused by unlicensed sales would be to require background checks on all gun sales.  

Senator Cornyn has long been a staunch opponent of background checks on all gun sales – a policy which Texas voters, including independents (84%), gun owners (83%), suburban women (94%), and voters in battleground districts (82%) overwhelmingly support.

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