Texas politicians are starkly opposed in their reactions to the recent shootings in El Paso and Odessa.

From statewide elected officials down to lawmakers in the state Capitol, politicians of every stripe are sounding off online, making known their would-be public policy positions in response to the tragedies.

A few weeks ago, gun-control advocates dominated the public debate, advancing positions such as universal background checks, red-flag laws, or outright confiscation of private property. However, many others are now voicing their thoughts and pushing back against the call for stricter gun-control laws, taking a more conservative position on the topic. Republicans are answering the deafening chorus of calls for action with a different narrative: protecting the civil rights of Texans.

Seemingly spurred on by the Facebook post and subsequent Twitter thread of Republican State Rep. Matt Schaefer (Tyler), which went viral over the weekend, Republicans have become more comfortable going on the record regarding their stances.

Republican State Sens. Pat Fallon (Prosper) and Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills) said the following:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz pointed out the stringent gun-control laws of liberal bastions have done little to prevent shootings. For example, Fox News reports 35 people were shot and 7 were killed on the streets of Chicago over the “bloody Labor Day weekend.” Chicago, of course, has some of the nation’s most stringent gun-control policies.

Meanwhile, former Democrat congressman and presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, who is garnering 2 percent on the national stage according to recent polls, is leading the charge for Democrats who are clamoring for stricter gun control, including confiscation of firearms from law-abiding Texans:

Democrats in the Texas Legislature are following suit, including former State Sen. Kirk Watson (Austin):

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says a “package” plan is in the works, one including expedition of the execution of convicted mass shooters. Little else has been said of what the rest of his team’s proposal will entail. Furthermore, whether the plan would be considered in the 87th Texas Legislature starting January 2021, or if he intends to call lawmakers back sooner for a special session to vote on proposals, is also still largely up in the air.

Demands for Abbott to call for a special session in the wake of the shootings have been Democrats’ way of jumping at the opportunity to capitalize on Texans’ emotions.

The choir of liberal Democrats in the Texas House suggests the latter is the only option worthy of consideration. Calls for a special session to pass one of Democrats’ myriad gun-control policies have grown louder, as Democrats hold press conferences across the state, beating the drum for the legislature to reconvene.

Texas House Democrat Caucus Chairman Chris Turner (Fort Worth) posted a list of such demands, which include red-flag laws, creation of more “gun-free zones,” and taxing ammunition and gun accessories.

But with Republicans still ostensibly at the helm of every corner of the lawmaking process in Texas, only a compromise on their party’s part to cede ground to Democrats’ agenda would result in the scenario unfolding. Abbott, to date, has stopped short of calling for a special session of the legislature on the issue, opting only for a repeat of the previous interim where he has had two “roundtable discussions” to air the conflict out.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.


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