Houston Police Chief on School Shootings: Elected Officials ‘Are Not Doing Anything Other Than Offering Prayers’

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said when a mass shooting happens, elected officials at “state level and the federal level in too many places in our country were not doing anything other than offering prayers.”

Partial transcript as follows:

MARGARET BRENNAN: The city of Houston is just right up the road from Santa Fe and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo joins us now. He’s expressed his frustration with gun violence in a Facebook post that went viral this weekend. Chief, thank you for joining us. I know a friend of yours, John Barnes, a retired Houston police officer who was one of the armed guards at the school during this shooting, is someone you just visited with. Can you tell us what his condition is?

CHIEF ART ACEVEDO: Well thank God that he’s, he’s in very serious condition but he’s stable. I can tell you that we expect him to recover. His families are with him, his friends are there with him and they’re very grateful for all the prayers and all the messages they’ve been receiving from around the country and the world.

BRENNAN: Well, chief, because he was there — armed guards were there, in fact — this school had won safety awards in the past. Why didn’t all those measures prevent this attack?

ACEVEDO: You know, that’s part of the ongoing investigation as to what the, what we can do better, but we know one thing: if it wasn’t for those officers that ran towards the gunfire, for John and his assistant chief and others that actually discharged their firearms and returned fire leading to the suspect surrendering, who knows what the casualty count would have been? But they are heroes. But now we need to look ahead to see how we can do better next time because there will be a next time based on the inaction of elected officials across this country.

BRENNAN: Who specifically are you faulting for not taking action?

ACEVEDO: Well, let me tell you, people at the state level and the federal level in too many places in our country are not doing anything other than offering prayers. I’m grateful that I’m working a city with the mayor who is transformative, Sylvester Turner, and what we’re starting to see is that local governments are starting to make a difference, and I think that the American people, gun owners, the vast majority of which are pragmatic and actually support gun sense and gun reform in terms of keeping guns in the right hands. We need to start using the ballot box and ballot initiatives to take the matters out of the hands of people that are doing nothing that are elected into the hands of the people to see that the will of the people in this country is actually carried out.

BRENNAN: In this specific instance, the shooter didn’t have a known criminal record. His father had legally obtained the guns that he used in this shooting. They weren’t semi-automatic weapons, so specifically what laws do you think need to be changed that would have prevented this attack?

ACEVEDO: Well, I think in this one specifically one of the things that we need to consider is if you have firearms in your home and you do not secure them and you don’t secure them in a manner that can preclude someone from grabbing them and taking them and- and carrying out this carnage that there is a criminal liability that attaches. When there’s skin in the game for all weapons owners including myself I think that people will have a different outlook. And so we’ve got to make sure that everyone stores them in a responsible manner and that there are significant penalties when they fail to do so and people die as a result of those- of that failure.

BRENNAN: So you’re saying you believe the father of the shooter needs to be held legally accountable?

ACEVEDO: I believe that anyone that owns a firearm that doesn’t secure it properly ends up in the wrong hands and used to kill innocent people that that should carry some significant consequences. We need to think about that on the national level across this country.

BRENNAN: Alright, chief, thank you for giving us your insights.

ACEVEDO: Yeah, thank you.

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