Following the tragic shooting at a Uvalde elementary school last week, Gov. Greg Abbott requested that leaders of the state Legislature create special committees charged with developing recommendations on “school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.”
On Friday, House Speaker Dade Phelan responded by forming the Texas House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting to “conduct an examination into the circumstances” surrounding the tragedy.
The committee will be made up of only two members of the House: Republican State Rep. Dustin Burrows (Lubbock) and Democrat State Rep. Joe Moody (El Paso). Former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman will also be involved in the investigation.
Moody’s placement on the committee could raise alarms for gun rights advocates, as he has been an outspoken advocate of “red flag” gun confiscation proposals.
Moody has previously filed legislation that would have allowed courts to confiscate Texans’ guns without notice or a hearing, and extend such an order for up to two years without giving the accused a right to a jury or a right of appeal. Such “red flag” proposals are in opposition to the Republican Party of Texas’ platform.
In 2018, following a shooting at Santa Fe High School, Abbott called on the Legislature to examine “red flag” laws.
That proposal was quickly shot down by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick after a special committee hearing in which Second Amendment advocates vigorously opposed the proposal.
Moody has also been vocally critical of recent legislation to expand gun rights in Texas.
— Joe Moody (@moodyforelpaso) May 25, 2022
Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi called Moody’s placement on the committee “indefensible.”
This is an indefensible choice. The Democrat appointed to investigate the Uvalde shooting concluded that the cause of El Paso shooting that killed 23 people in 2019 was Republicans who oppose illegal immigration. Why would we trust his judgement to find the cause of this tragedy? https://t.co/7YCzl4RDLI pic.twitter.com/ycir37nsKk
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) June 3, 2022
“Given Moody’s allegations were that Republicans were directly responsible for the last Texas mass shooting, why in the world would a GOP-controlled House put him in charge of informing their response to this one?” Rinaldi added.
Despite being a liberal Democrat, Moody’s ties to Republican leadership in the Texas House go deep. In 2019, he was appointed by Speaker Dennis Bonnen to serve as the speaker pro tempore, effectively his “No. 2” assistant in the House. When Dade Phelan became speaker of the House in 2021, he kept Moody in the position. Later, when Moody joined other Democrats in fleeing to Washington, D.C., during a special session in an attempt to thwart election integrity legislation, Phelan was pressured into removing him from his post.
Nearly a year later, however, Phelan has kept the position vacant. With this recent appointment, it appears Moody is just as tied into leadership as before.