After the tragic mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday, calls for “red-flag’ gun confiscation laws are stacking up, with at least one Texas Republican publicly supporting the measure.
U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R–TX), who is currently serving his first term in Congress, took to Twitter on Sunday to suggest that implementing state “red-flag laws,” in which guns could be confiscated without due process from those suspected to have mental health issues, may be a solution to curbing violence.
The solutions aren’t obvious, even if we pretend they are. But we must try. Let’s start with the TAPS Act. Maybe also implement state “red flag” laws, or gun violence restraining orders. Stop them before they can hurt someone.https://t.co/2G2pZSWaF1
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) August 4, 2019
President Donald Trump echoed Crenshaw’s call Monday morning, saying, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” adding that he would consider “red-flag” legislation and background checks. His comments came without any vocal opposition from the National Rifle Association—which bills itself as “America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights.”
Meanwhile, other gun rights organizations are holding their ground.
Rachel Malone, the Texas director for Gun Owners of America, said in a statement that the shooting underscored the need to “remove barriers that hinder law-abiding citizens’ ability to take responsibility for their own safety.”
A fierce opponent of legislation that would further erode the Second Amendment, GOA has, moreover, been a strong supporter of constitutional carry legislation to remove the permit requirement to carry a handgun.
“The barbaric attack in El Paso highlights the truth that Texas’ permitting system for gun carry harms minorities disproportionately, adding unnecessary barriers that do not increase safety but only decrease Texans’ ability to carry a firearm as an effective defense tool,” Malone added. “Permit requirements do not keep criminals from committing despicable crimes; they only add barriers for law-abiding citizens who want to save their own lives.”
Chris McNutt, the executive director of Texas Gun Rights, echoed Malone’s sentiment, adding, “I believe we are facing a greater threat [to gun rights] than we had 6 years ago after the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut,” pointing to the recent statements from the White House.
This isn’t the first time “red-flag” legislation has been floated in the Lone Star State.
Shortly after the shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018, Gov. Greg Abbott held a series of roundtable discussions to craft a plan to address school violence. After the hearings, Abbott rolled out a plan that included his push for legislation to “keep guns out of the hands of those mentally unfit to bear arms, but only after legal due process is allowed to ensure Second Amendment rights are not violated.”
After a series of interim committee hearings and pressure from gun owners in the state, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared the issue dead, saying, “I have never supported these policies, nor has the majority of the Texas Senate.” Abbott also shied away from the proposal after initially including a long list of legislative options on the table.
But with renewed calls for gun control in the wake of the El Paso shooting, Second Amendment advocates are, once again, on high alert.