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At Lone Star campus, leaders discuss ways to combat gun violence

Erin Mulvane, Houston Chronicle
Updated 1:34 am, Friday, February 1, 2013
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Better training for officers, a database to prevent the mentally ill or violent from buying guns and a ban on assault rifles were among recommendations Houston-area community leaders offered on Thursday at a panel discussion for combating gun violence.

Lone Star College leaders, still absorbing the shock waves of last week's campus shooting that wounded three people, were among those at the discussion, held at the college's Victory Center location in north Houston. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee organized the event.

School leaders, along with others at the gathering, said they oppose proposals to train schoolteachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom, legislation filed in Austin in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting in Connecticut in December.

Richard Gregory, the Lone Star College campus college's chief of police, said different law enforcement agencies assisted on the North Harris campus when a man opened fire there on Jan. 22 after an argument. He said the presence of more guns on campus would have confused the situation, rather than helped.

"Every gun that came out would have slowed down the response," Gregory said.

Police chiefs from local school districts told the panel that allowing anyone other than law enforcement officers to carry weapons on campus would be dangerous.

"It would be chaotic," said Houston ISD Police Chief Jimmy Dotson. "I would be concerned whether they would be able to use the weapon effectively. I'm opposed to any weapon on any campus unless you are a police officer."

Police chiefs also said they hope the penalty will be increased for those parents who allow guns to end up in the hands of their elementary school students. Under the law, parents could face a misdemeanor offense.

Jackson Lee, D-Houston, told the audience she would take their recommendations on federal gun policy to the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Washington D.C.