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.
Criminals don’t care about the laws that are passed. https://t.co/W1GHcxyZzi
— Kelly Hancock (@KHancock4TX) September 2, 2019
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.
Gun control doesn’t work. Look at Chicago. Disarming law-abiding citizens isn’t the answer. Stopping violent criminals—prosecuting & getting them off the street—BEFORE they commit more violent crimes is the most effective way to reduce murder rates. Let’s protect our citizens. https://t.co/znHO31gDH2
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 2, 2019
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:
I was asked how I’d address people’s fears that we will take away their assault rifles.
I want to be clear: That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell their assault weapons. All of them. pic.twitter.com/YbnSsz3bVy
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 2, 2019
Democrats in the Texas Legislature are following suit, including former State Sen. Kirk Watson (Austin):
Thoughts & prayers, roundtables & platitudes, recycled tweets of sorrow, specious calls for justice after the fact can’t replace needed #txlege action, real effort to prevent these horrible acts. And we need action in elections. We need to vote like lives depend on it. They do.
— Senator Kirk Watson (@KirkPWatson) September 1, 2019
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.
— Victoria Neave (@Victoria4Texas) September 1, 2019
God didnt give me the right to own a gun he gave me the right to run and serve to the best of my ability and we need a special session to focus Texas big ‘ole head on limiting civilian access to weapons of war #txlege #texasshooting #anothermassshooting https://t.co/qpWlSs0XZn
— Celia Israel (@CeliaIsrael) September 1, 2019
I’m tired of inaction. I’m tired of the cynicism. I’m tired of watching my fellow Americans slaughtered at the hands of gun violence. You don’t need a round table panel to produce legislation. Truthfully not about feeling good at passing a bill. Bills might save lives! #txlege
— Armando Walle (@RepWalle) September 3, 2019
Special session now. https://t.co/Rol7j63byU
— Rep. Poncho Nevárez (@poncho_nevarez) September 2, 2019
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.
In the wake of #OdessaShooting, many in media are pointing out (fairly) that there are TX laws taking effect today that further loosen gun restrictions. Some TX legislators have different viewpoint. These are gun safety bills filed by House Democrats this year. @TexasHDC #txlege pic.twitter.com/iH16HkfXfT
— Chris Turner (@ChrisGTurner) September 1, 2019
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.