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Turner kicks off gun violence commission at Houston City Hall

Chron logo Chron 5/31/2018 Zach Despart
Mayor Sylvester Turner, center, gives remarks as emcee Veronica Hernandez, left, and Takasha Francis, right, director of the Dept. of Neighborhoods, listen during an unveiling ceremony of the new mural on the wall of the Gulfton Salvation Army building Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Houston, TX. (Michael Wyke / For the Chronicle) © Michael Wyke, Freelance / For The Chronicle Mayor Sylvester Turner, center, gives remarks as emcee Veronica Hernandez, left, and Takasha Francis, right, director of the Dept. of Neighborhoods, listen during an unveiling ceremony of the new mural on the wall of the Gulfton Salvation Army building Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Houston, TX. (Michael Wyke / For the Chronicle) The March for Our Lives protest two weeks ago included 10-year-old Dezmond Floyd of Humble, center, as area students rallied in support of the national movement. © Karen Warren, Staff / Houston Chronicle The March for Our Lives protest two weeks ago included 10-year-old Dezmond Floyd of Humble, center, as area students rallied in support of the national movement.

Mayor Sylvester Turner on Thursday held an inaugural meeting of a new city commission against gun violence, 13 days after a student shot and killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School.

However, it was another high school shooting, the Valentine's Day attack in Parkland, Fla., that prompted the mayor to assemble the group. The Santa Fe rampage was an ugly coincidence.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee lead the March For Our Lives, March 24, 2018 in Houston. (Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle) © Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee lead the March For Our Lives, March 24, 2018 in Houston. (Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle)

Turner, who like many attendees wore a green ribbon in support of the Santa Fe victims, said a group of local students who are part of the national March For Our Lives movement against gun violence persuaded him to create the commission.

Mayor Sylvester Turner holds up a t-shirt during the March for Our Lives protest and march starting at Tranquility Park, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Houston. After the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, students of the school have organized a nationwide protest including Houston, TX to plea for a strengthening of gun laws. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ) © Karen Warren, Staff / Houston Chronicle Mayor Sylvester Turner holds up a t-shirt during the March for Our Lives protest and march starting at Tranquility Park, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Houston. After the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, students of the school have organized a nationwide protest including Houston, TX to plea for a strengthening of gun laws. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle )

"They demanded gun safety, safe schools, and an end to school shootings," Turner said. "And quite frankly, I just don't think that's too much to ask."

Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks to the crowd during the March for Our Lives protest and march starting at Tranquility Park, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Houston. After the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, students of the school have organized a nationwide protest including Houston, TX to plea for a strengthening of gun laws. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle ) © Karen Warren, Staff / Houston Chronicle Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks to the crowd during the March for Our Lives protest and march starting at Tranquility Park, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Houston. After the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, students of the school have organized a nationwide protest including Houston, TX to plea for a strengthening of gun laws. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle )

The 37-member group includes a wide swath of Houstonians, including students, teachers, law enforcement, clergy, city officials, doctors, gun advocates, gun violence victims and gun owners. Haley Carter, a former Marine Corps officer and Houston Dash goalkeeper, will chair the group.

Turner asked the group to make one set of recommendation by the time Texas children return to school in August, and another before the new Congress convenes in Washington in January.

The mayor noted that visitors to City Hall must pass through a security screening, and said schoolchildren are no less deserving of such safety measures.

Turner gave introductory remarks and then encouraged commission members to sign a banner to the Galveston County community that hung in the lobby of City Hall. The rest of the meeting was closed to the news media.

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