Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price joins bipartisan group of mayors calling for universal background checks on gun purchases

It's been almost 20 years since a gunman killed seven people in a church in Fort Worth. Price was among a group of mayors who visited the White House on Monday to push for some gun reform.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says she supports "red flag" laws and background checks on some private gun sales.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says she supports "red flag" laws and background checks on some private gun sales.  Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a longtime Republican, joined a bipartisan group of U.S. mayors Monday who met with President Donald Trump's senior advisors to push for tighter gun control laws. She was the only mayor from Texas, which has seen two deadly mass shootings in recent weeks.

Price told The Texas Tribune that, among other measures, she supports "red flag" laws, which allow judges to temporarily seize an individual’s firearms if that person is considered an imminent threat. She also said that some private gun sales should require background checks. The 36-year-old gunman who killed seven people in West Texas on Aug. 31 had previously failed a background check and is believed to have bought his gun in a private sale.

“Well it's tragic and there's just far far too many of them, and it really has awakened my resolve that we have to have universal background checks, and we need the red flag law and we need a chance for private sales to have background checks also,” Price explained from Washington, D.C., after the meeting.

Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick clashed with the National Rifle Association last month when he said he supported expanding background checks to include stranger-to-stranger sales. The NRA called his support for such an expansion a “political gambit.”

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Price, who is a gun owner and practices recreational shooting, preferred to not comment Monday on the NRA’s statements. But she said it feels like the political climate around gun rights and gun control have changed in light of the recent mass shootings across the country.

She was one of more than 270 city leaders of both parties — including the mayors of Houston, Dallas and Austin — who signed a declaration asking for universal background checks.

“This is a nonpartisan issue, and the president and his team need to be hearing from their conservative, Republican mayors,” said Price.

Sunday will mark the 20th anniversary of the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting in Fort Worth, when a 47-year-old interrupted a teen prayer rally and killed seven people.

“It tends to get forgotten in light of all [these] shootings now, but yes, it was very significant and it left a major impact on people's lives,” Price said.