Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Highlights Commitment of County Funds for Safe Surrender Gun Safety Program

Tuesday November 12, 2019

Harris County Commissioners Court voted on twomeasures related to gun safety, including the formal expansion of a “Safe Surrender” pilotprogram designed to protect victims of domestic violence. The program, which was piloted in the280th family court, provides a pathway for those charged with domestic violence to surrendertheir weapons to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which will test and safely store the weaponsuntil the case is resolved.

“By expanding the Safe Surrender program to 22 felony courts in Harris County, we are taking astand for survivors. For too long, state and federal lawmakers have abdicated their responsibilityto address gun violence. As local leaders, we can’t wait for the status quo to change. It’s our dutyto implement common-sense measures to protect domestic violence victims from situations thattoo often turn deadly because of guns and to assess the effectiveness of these kinds of programsso they can be replicated if successful.”

Although protective order respondents are required by law to surrender their weapons, mostjurisdictions in Texas lack a formal surrender protocol to enforce the law, leaving deadlyweapons in the hands of potentially dangerous offenders, and risking the safety of survivors, lawenforcement officers, and community members, and disregarding accountability.

Last year, more than one-third of all murders investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Officewere related to domestic violence. Additionally, research demonstrates that access to a firearm ina domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will bekilled. Today’s action will allocate $247,000 to fund the expansion, including adding twopositions within the Harris County Sheriff's Office, a vehicle equipped with a gun safe, and gunstorage equipment. The expansion also includes requirements for data tracking and assessment.\

In addition to the Safe Surrender program expansion, Commissioners Court also voted on a nonbinding resolution in support of universal background checks for all firearm sales and, inparticular, all stranger-to-stranger firearm sales and all firearm sales not involving a licensed gundealer.

“A large majority of Texans and of Americans support background checks. It’s time governmentcaught up,” said Hidalgo. “Elected officials at the state and federal level have failed to meet theirobligation to protect us from gun violence. While non-binding, this resolution, coupled with the steps Harris County has taken in recent weeks, sends a clear message that the residents of HarrisCounty will not tolerate inaction when it comes to gun violence.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body and Director of theHarris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Judge Hidalgo, alongsidefour County Precinct Commissioners, oversees a budget of approximately $5 billion that funds servicesand institutions for the third-largest county in the nation, home to nearly 5 million people. For moreinformation about Harris County and the Office of the County Judge, please visit: