Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence

Houston Police chief Art Acevedo on Monday lambasted Republican senators for their failure to take action on gun violence and the long-stalled Violence Against Women Act after a city police sergeant was fatally shot while responding to an incident of domestic violence. 

Acevedo singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell urges people to wear masks: 'There's no stigma' Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  Lack of child care poses major hurdle as businesses reopen MORE (R-Ky.) and Texas's Republican senators, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death Trump administration ends waivers in Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran Romney defends Joe Scarborough, staffer's widower: 'Enough already' MORE and John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Castro, Warren, Harris to speak at Texas Democratic virtual convention Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight MORE, saying during a press conference that he did not "want to see their little smug faces [saying] how much they care about law enforcement when I’m burying a sergeant because they don’t want to piss off the [National Rifle Association]," The Guardian reported

The comments from Acevedo came just two days after Sgt. Christopher Brewster was shot and killed after responding to a call from a female victim who reported that her boyfriend assaulted her and was armed with two guns. 

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“We’ve got to get the Violence Against Women Act acted upon,” Acevedo said, referring to legislation that first passed in 1994 and lapsed during last year's government shutdown. “We’ve got to get in a room. I don’t want to hear about how much they support law enforcement, how much they care about lives and the sanctity of lives."

“We all know in law enforcement that this is one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and others are not getting into a room and having a conference committee with the House, and getting the Violence Against Women Act, is because the NRA doesn’t like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends," Acevedo continued. 

He went on to plead with lawmakers to "make up your minds" and decide whose side they are on. 

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"Whose side are you on? Gun manufactures? The gun lobby? Or the children who are getting gunned down in this country every single day? In our schools, in our theaters, in our colleges, on our streets, in our homes, in our businesses. Who are you coming to work for?" he asked. 

Cornyn and the National Rifle Association (NRA) did not immediately respond to requests for comments from The Hill. 

"It’s downright disgusting that John Cornyn’s loyalty to the gun lobby comes before protecting the women who need added safety the most," Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Brittany Switzer said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday. "Every day, women’s lives are lost because of domestic abusers who should not have access to guns yet are able to get their hands on them. Texans deserve a senator who stands up to the NRA and the gun lobby, not one who continues to let women be murdered because they are too much of a coward to stand up for what’s right."

The House in April passed the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act despite objections from the NRA and Republican lawmakers who said it went too far.

The reconstructed bill bars those convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing firearms. Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFrustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein MORE (D-Calif.) attempted to gain consent to vote on the bill by the end of the year in November. 

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Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Cuomo rings the first opening bell since March House Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states MORE (R-Iowa), who is introducing her own version of the legislation, objected, arguing that the House bill would not pass in the upper chamber. 

Acevedo has been outspoken in his calls for lawmakers to take more action on gun reform. Earlier this month, he said on Twitter that it was past time for Cornyn, Cruz and McConnell "to lead & get the Violence Against Women Act to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE." 

"Unfortunately, important legislation like this has fallen casualty to impeachment mania. We will keep trying to pass a bipartisan bill but it takes two (parties) to tango," Cornyn tweeted in response, prompting Acevedo to argue that the Republicans were still passing legislation and confirming judges. 

"Make women and families a priority, like you do the aforementioned," he said. 

"Don’t tell me, senator, with all due respect, it’s about the impeachment," he added on Monday. "Because you brag every day, you and Mitch McConnell, about getting judges confirmed. You brag about every piece of legislation you care about."

—Updated at 4:18 p.m. Tuesday