El Paso Strong
On Saturday, a gunman who espoused white nationalist and racist views opened fire in a crowd of families shopping for back to school supplies in El Paso, killing at least 22. This horrific mass shooting was followed less than 12 hours later by another shooting in Ohio. In total, at least 31 innocent lives were lost over the weekend. Out of the 22 deadliest shootings in American history, 5 of them have occurred in our state. The attack in El Paso is devastating and we must stand together to support the El Paso community.
Gun violence is an epidemic that must be addressed, however President Trump jumped to blame the shootings on mental illness. On the contrary, individuals suffering from mentally illness DO NOT commit violent crimes at a high rate. Studies show that people who suffer from a mental illness are not more likely to be perpetrators of gun violence. In fact, they are more likely to be victims of gun violence. We must address the stigma surrounding mental illness, as it has only increased due to mass shootings.
The President of the American Psychological Association said, “Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing…The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”
1 in 5 Americans is affected by a mental health condition.“Stigma…creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it,” said the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI).
Unlike President Trump, President Obama worked hard to create positive change and actually address gun violence in America. In his 2016 State of the Union address, he unveiled his common sense approach to reducing gun deaths while ensuring that the 2nd Amendment right to bare arms remained protected. He aimed to close loopholes and improve background checks for every gun sale to ensure that everyone is being treated the same – whether buying from your local gun shop or purchasing one over the internet.
President Obama was never going to take away any legal firearms, but rather ensure safety among firearm sales. As the Pew Research Center has observed “Gun ownership is one of the hardest things for researchers to pin down,” so we do not actually know how many guns are in America. President Obama’s plan was to have smarter and more effective enforcement of existing gun laws, meaning more federal agents, better recording of lost and stolen guns, and ensuring that dangerous criminals do not have access to firearms.
Gun violence is a unique problem the United States faces as a developed country, yet in Texas, many are fighting against common sense regulations. In fact, this past legislative session, the Republican-led Legislature passed laws making it easier to access guns. Those laws take effect on September 1st – less than a month after the devastating shooting in El Paso.
We must work for common sense regulations, including closing the loopholes that allow for people to purchase firearms online or at gun shows without a background check. Additionally, we must modify background checks to include looking at the no fly and terror watch lists. These regulations respect the 2nd amendment and will not prevent any law-abiding person from owning as many guns as they want to.
Despite all the destruction one cowardly person can cause, more people are working to do good. I am still confident that America will be able to meet its challenges as long as we vote for good policies and leaders who are willing to make changes that benefit all of us. In the meantime, please join me in standing with the great city of El Paso.
The El Paso Community Foundation created the El Paso Shooting Victims’ Fund to support the victims and their families. Click here to donate.DONATE BLOOD
Go to bloodhero.com or call 877-258-4825 to make an appointment to donate blood.
Lyft is offering free rides to those individuals donating at designated blood centers. Use code ELPRELIEF19, which is valid for two rides, up to $15 each. Click here for more information.
On Tuesday, I was proud to join over 175 people for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Senior Center at 2222 Cleburne. Houston’s own Montrose Center broke ground on the Law Harrington Senior Living Center – the country’s second-largest LGBTQ-affirming housing project for low-income seniors.
As reported by OutSmart Magazine here, half the cost of the project is covered by federal housing subsidies. The “There’s No Place Like Home” campaign that I am an Honorary Co-Chair of along with former Mayor Annise Parker will continue to raise money for the senior housing project.
I am proud to be a leader for this project – the first of its kind in the Southwest. The facility is designed to alleviate the problem of housing discrimination against LGBTQ seniors.
From left to right: Rep. Coleman, Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and Kennedy Loftin. Photo by OutSmart Magazine.
The Center will feature:
-Specific services and programming for LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV
-Social services department managed by the Montrose Center
-Geriatric primary care clinic provided by Legacy Community Health
-A group dining area, meeting and game rooms, a fitness center, dog park, vegetable garden, and outdoor recreational spaces
It will have over 112 independent living units spread across two main four-story buildings and it is tentatively scheduled to open in the summer of 2020. It will be open to all seniors aged 62 and over who meet income guidelines. Eligible seniors who live in the Center will pay no more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The facility will be less than two miles east of the Montrose Center, in the historic Third Ward. I am proud to represent such a diverse community in District 147.
Click here for more information on this very important LGBTQ-affirming housing project for low-income senior.
UPDATE ON HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
According to reports by the Houston Chronicle, the preliminary report regarding Houston Independent School District (HISD) recommends that the Board of Managers replace the elected HISD board. For the full story, click here. I will continue to follow this story and keep you updated.
What To Watch This Week:
Our video of the week is Toni Morrison’s powerful words on racism. “Toni Morrison, who chronicled the African American experience in fiction over five decades, has died aged 88. The novelist was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and is widely regarded as a champion for repressed minorities. Speaking on racism, Morrison said in an interview: “If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees then you have a serious problem. And my feeling is white people have a very, very serious problem.“ Toni Morrison, author and Nobel laureate, dies aged 88″.
Cartoon of the Week
Song of the Week