On Friday night, in the aftermath of the shooting at Santa Fe High School, Houston police chief Art Acevedo posted a public statement on Facebook declaring he’d hit “rock bottom” on gun rights arguments. In the post, he specifically refers to “the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing.” Reaction to the post ranged from calls for him to run for elected office to criticism from the NRA, which accused Acevedo of wanting to “make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners.”

On Tuesday, Acevedo spoke on the Texas Monthly podcast about the gun debate, the NRA, and his first eighteen months as Houston’s chief of police.

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The conversation can be heard above. Read on for some condensed and edited highlights.

Advocating for “Gun Control”

Acevedo: I have never talked about gun control. Those are words that are being put in my mouth by the descriptions that members of the media decide to use. To me, it’s not about gun control. It’s about maintaining access and having steps to give access to firearms to law-abiding people of sound mind. That’s not about controlling and getting rid of guns. That’s about keeping guns in the hands of the good guys. We need a universal background check throughout the nation that is a one system with real teeth with significant consequences. If you’re going to sell a firearm at a gun show, you shouldn’t be able to say, “We’ll, I’m a private seller,” then sell to whoever has $1,000 and give them an AR-15 without putting them through a background check. That’s just ridiculous. There are things that can be done. Everyone knows it. And I think therein lies the frustration with a lot of people, including a lot of my friends that are salt-of-the-earth conservatives, great people, NRA members, and wound up giving me me feedback that say this is not what we signed up for, this is not why we’re supportive of the NRA It’s not a zero-sum proposition.

The Next Generation as Activists

Acevedo: There’s a new generation. Every year, I think there’s about three million kids that turn eighteen. They’re going to turn this country around, because we’re living in an upside-down world where the youth are the adults and the adults are all bunch of cowards, me included. Shame on me that I haven’t been more forceful about pushing back on the false narrative that we should take away guns and that that’s the objective of the police chiefs of the country. That’s never been my objective and never will be my objective. 

On What Keeps Him Up At Night

Acevedo: What keeps me up at night is the thought of that lone wolf—that attack that we know may come. It may come from an extremist that may be a jihadist. Or it may come from some sovereign citizen, from homegrown extremists. . . I think that one of the things we really have to worry about is that when we marginalize people based on their nation of origin or the color of their skin, or the religion they follow, is that you have to ask yourself: What came first, the ideology or mental illness?. . . I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We need to start judging people through the content of their hearts and the sum of their actions.

On Whether He’d Run For Public Office

Acevedo: I have not considered public office. I don’t think I’m electable, even if I wanted to, because to be quite frank with you, I’m too far to the left for the right, and I’m too far to the right for the left.