As Texas Democrats rallied to demand a special session on gun-control measures, Gov. Greg Abbott refused to rule out any of the Democrats’ proposals. Instead, he’s urging Democrats to stop speaking from behind the media and “start talking to colleagues in the Capitol to reach consensus.”
On Wednesday, Texas House Democrats held press conferences across the state to announce more than 61 of their caucus members have signed a letter requesting Abbott call a special session to pass five separate gun-control measures and “measures to combat and interrupt the rise in racism and white nationalism.”
In their letter, Texas House Democrats wrote:
“While we believe many if not all of the attached legislative proposals will help address the gun violence epidemic, at a minimum we ask that you place the following items on the call:
- Enacting extreme risk protective order laws and closing existing loopholes in current protective order laws
- Closing the background check loopholes
- Banning the sale of high-capacity magazines
- Limiting the open carry of certain semi-automatic long guns
- Requiring stolen guns be reported to law enforcement
Additionally, given that the assailant in the El Paso shooting was driven by racial hatred and due to the ongoing potential for racially-driven violence, we request that you ask the Legislature to pass measures to combat and interrupt the rise in racism and white nationalism.”
Following Democrats’ press conferences, Abbott spokesman John Wittman issued a lengthy statement to KXAN’s Phil Prazan:
“Governor Abbott made clear in Odessa the all strategies are on the table that will lead to laws that make Texans safer. But that doesn’t include a helter skelter approach that hastily calls for perfunctory votes that divide legislators along party lines. Instead, the Governor seeks consensus rather than division.
The Democrats who are part of today’s partisan pitch can be part of the bi-partisan legislative process announced yesterday that is geared toward achieving real solutions, or they can be part of politics as usual that will accomplish nothing.
Legislating on tough issues is hard and takes time. If Democrats really want to change the law, they need to stop talking to cameras and start talking to colleagues in the Capitol to reach consensus.”
Abbott has previously supported “extreme risk protective orders,” also known as red-flag laws, before backing away from them last summer, but he has not publicly supported any of the other items Democrats have asked for.
The Texas GOP Platform opposes every item advocated for in the Democrat letter.
Special sessions of the Texas Legislature can only be called by the governor, who also decides which issues lawmakers are permitted to consider. Abbott has repeatedly pushed back against calls for special sessions following the conclusion of the 86th Texas Legislature.