“Whose side are you on?’: Police chief rips McConnell, Republicans for opposing ‘boyfriend loophole’ law after shooting death.”

Standing outside the medical examiner's office Monday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo waited to escort the body of a fallen police sergeant to a funeral home. Just two days earlier, Sgt. Christopher Brewster was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call.

But to Acevedo, the fatal incident could have been prevented if the suspect who police say pulled the trigger, Arturo Solis, never had access to a gun in the first place.

In blistering remarks to reporters outside the medical examiner's office, Acevedo slammed Republican leaders for failing for months to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, specifically calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas for not supporting a provision that would prohibit dating partners convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms — like Solis.

Acevedo accused McConnell, Cruz and Cornyn of being too afraid to support the provision because of retribution from the National Rifle Association.

"We all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are not … getting the Violence Against Women Act [reauthorized] is because the NRA doesn't like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends who abuse their girlfriends," Acevedo said Monday.

"And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend," he added.

Solis, who is suspected of beating his girlfriend the night Brewster, 32, responded to the 911 call, has a past domestic violence conviction involving a partner in 2015, records show.

Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Cornyn, argued that Acevedo's decision to invoke the "boyfriend loophole" provision in relation to Solis's case was moot, given there are already laws preventing people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence of buying guns, including in Texas for five years after release from jail. (The "boyfriend loophole" still also exists in the federal Gun Control Act, however.)

"So the 'loophole' he spent so much time blaming Sens. Cornyn and Cruz for didn't apply because [Solis] already wasn't supposed to own a gun," Brandewie said in an email to The Washington Post.

A spokesman for Cruz could not immediately be reached for comment late Monday but told KHOUthat the senator has spent many years "helping lead the fight to ensure that violent criminals — and especially sexual predators who target women and children — face the very strictest punishment," adding that he is reviewing VAWA.

In 2013, when VAWA was up for reauthorization again,Cruz, McConnell and Cornyn voted no, preferring alternative versions.

Acevedo's comments come as Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are at odds over which version of the Violence Against Women Act to move forward with, causing bipartisan negotiations to stall and accusations of political jockeying to fly across the aisle. The law, which provides grants and funding for domestic-violence prevention programs, was passed in 1994 but expired in February.

The House reauthorized an expanded version of VAWA in the spring to include the provision that would prohibit romantic partners convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or stalking, or who are subject to a restraining order, from possessing firearms — closing the "boyfriend loophole." Under current federal law, the gun safety provision applies only to spouses or ex-spouses, people who live together or have children together, but not dating partners. In the House, 33 Republicans broke ranks to vote to reauthorize the expanded version of the bill, which also included added protections for LGBT people and Native American women.

But the NRA came out in strong opposition, promising repercussions in the form of downgraded ratings for any Republican who voted for the "boyfriend loophole" version of VAWA. In an interview with the New York Times, a spokeswoman for the NRA called that provision a "poison pill," arguing it was "too broad and ripe for abuse."

In the Senate, that's where the trouble comes in.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) reached an impasse last month in negotiating a Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, deciding to go their separate ways. Saying the House bill had no chance of gaining bipartisan support in the GOP-controlled Senate, Ernst put forth her own version that eliminated the "boyfriend loophole" provision. Ernst pitched the bill as offering more funding for survivors and more resources for rape victims. Feinstein, meanwhile, went on to introduce the House's version that kept the gun safety provision.

Cornyn, a co-sponsor of Ernst's bill, has voiced strong support for VAWA — but not for the "boyfriend loophole" version. Speaking on the Senate floor last month, he accused Democrats of abandoning negotiations and took Ernst's side.

"They took the easy way out and simply walked away and introduced their own partisan reauthorization, one that they know has no chance of passing," he said of the Democrats, accusing them of playing games.

Cornyn and Acevedo traded barbs on Twitter about this same disagreement just a week ago, before Brewster's death. Acevedo had just advocated for swift renewal of VAWA with a Houston women's organization. On Twitter, he blamed McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz for inaction, urging them to "lock yourselves in a room" and not come out until a deal was complete.

Cornyn fired back on Twitter: "Unfortunately, important legislation like this has fallen casualty to impeachment mania."

On Monday, Acevedo said, "with all due respect," that he didn't want to hear "it's about impeachment," saying he knew it was about the NRA instead. His accusations against the trio of Republicans mirror those that Democratic leadership have waged against Ernst and McConnell.

"You're either here for women and children and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts, or you're here for the NRA," Acevedo said. "So I don't want to see their little smug faces talking about how much they care about law enforcement when I'm burying a sergeant because they don't want to piss off the NRA.

"Make up your minds," the police chief continued. "Whose side are you on? Gun manufacturers? The gun lobby? Or the children that are getting gunned down in this country every single day?"

The Houston police union was displeased with Acevedo's timing, as he made the political statement just before he and Houston officers escorted Brewster's body to the funeral home, KTRK reported.

The shooting that killed Brewster happened in a flash Saturday evening, when a woman called 911 to report that her boyfriend had assaulted her and that he was armed. When Brewster responded to the call, he spotted both the suspect and the victim walking down the street just ahead, police said.

Brewster got out of the patrol car to get their attention — and immediately, Solis opened fire, striking Brewster multiple times, police said.

Solis took off running. Brewster lay bleeding, but "although he was mortally wounded," Acevedo said, the sergeant spoke into his police radio before losing consciousness, broadcasting a description of the fleeing suspect.

Police found Solis jumping a fence. As the Houston Chronicle reported Monday, when police apprehended him on the grounds of a nearby elementary school, Solis allegedly asked whether the police officer he shot was okay.

Solis was arraigned Monday, where his defense attorneys noted he has a history of mental illness.

"The obvious question to us becomes, how does a mentally ill person with prior domestic violence conviction get a handgun?" defense attorney Anthony Osso said.

Chief blasts the NRA, U.S. Senators after Houston officer’s murderwww.youtube.com

Megan Flynn, Washington Post, December 10, 2019


December 11, 2019

Voices4America Post Script. 👮♀️ Officer Murdered! Support Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo! Share this post which tells the whole story and has a video of the chief too. #StopTheNRA #SenJohnCornyn #SenJoniErnst #SenTedCruz #StopMoscowMitch #SupportVAWA #StopTheGOP

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