Judge Hidalgo, Sheriff Gonzalez Announce Measures to Protect Harris County Residents, Reduce Gun-Related Violence

Tuesday October 29, 2019

The expansion of a weapon-surrender program designed toprotect victims of domestic violence was among several gun-safety initiatives announced by HarrisCounty Judge Lina Hidalgo and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez Tuesday at Commissioners Court. The proposalwould extend the “Safe Surrender” program to all 22 felony district courts.

The program, which was piloted in the 280th family court, requires those charged with domestic violenceto surrender their weapons to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which will test and safely store theweapons until the case is resolved. With 45 percent of domestic violence homicides occurring within 90days of separation, the program seeks a measure of protection for victims and their families during avulnerable time period.

“Elected officials at the state and federal level have failed to meet their basic obligation to takemeaningful action to protect us from gun violence,” Judge Hidalgo said. “Here in Harris County, wewon’t sit idly by and do nothing as this epidemic continues to steal lives all around us. We know countygovernment can be an agent for positive change, working around barriers and unfunded mandates to keepour communities safe. The measures we are announcing today are real, common-sense actions that willsave lives and protect some of our most vulnerable residents, including victims of domestic violence andchildren.”

“While action to address gun violence stalls at the state and federal level, I’m proud of the actions thatHarris County is taking at the local level to protect vulnerable members of our community from gunrelated domestic violence,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “We must always do what we can toprevent and reduce all forms of gun violence in our communities.” 

In addition to the expansion Safe Surrender program, Harris County officials are working together toaddress gun-related violence through the following initiatives: 

• Expedited reporting of disqualifying convictions for firearms ownership: The Harris CountyDistrict Clerk’s Office will report convictions that disqualify people from owning firearms to theDepartment of Public Safety within five business days, faster than currently required by law. 

• Gun lock distribution: Precinct One Constables are distributing gun locks at community serviceevents. 

• Task force: The Harris County Public Health Department has begun a task force on violence andinjury prevention.

Harris County officials will return to Commissioners Court with an implementation plan and fundingrecommendations for the Safe Surrender program by the November 12, 2019 meeting.

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: