Hardcore N.R.A. member Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick supporting a type of gun background check doesn’t pass the smell test.
Politics is a strange business, so anything’s possible. We hope our skepticism is misplaced. This could be one of those rare inflection points in the gun safety movement that sends a shock wave throughout the Republican Party to do what’s right and to do their basic duty of protecting Americans from harm. Lawmakers do have a change of heart sometimes and evolve, which we welcome. Or it could be something else.
On Friday, Patrick embraced stranger-to-stranger background checks on private gun sales. He told The Dallas Morning News he was “willing to take an arrow” for the team by ticking off the N.R.A, which in 2018 gushed over Patrick’s record when announcing his A+ report card.
The group’s endorsement, they wrote to Patrick, “is a reflection of your lengthy and proven record of support for the Second Amendment and…your rating is the highest an incumbent can achieve. Your strong commitment has been demonstrated by your office prioritizing and overseeing the passage of landmark NRA-backed open carry, campus carry and license to carry fee reduction legislation.”
Patrick wants to arm teachers, whom he thinks are part of a “well-run militia.” He said video games were to blame after the El Paso massacre. He was rated 100% by the Texas State Rifle Association.
It is entirely possible fresh polling came back showing Texas Republicans have a real political problem on their hands, forcing them to take some sort of action in a 2020 swing state following El Paso and Odessa. They are seen as the extremists they are if they do nothing directly on guns, and control of the Texas House of Representatives will hinge on suburban districts where the gun violence issue can hurt the GOP badly.
“Look, the political ground is shifting,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told the New York Times on Friday. “The truth is the N.R.A. has never been weaker. What you’re seeing is elected officials, many of whom were closely aligned with the N.R.A., turning their back on the N.R.A. and choosing to be with the public rather than the gun lobby.”
That’s true. But call us hardcore Dan Patrick disbelievers. He’s the most conservative Republican in the state of Texas and is the chair of Trump’s re-election in the state.
“Someone in the Republican Party has to take the lead on this,” Patrick told the Morning News, referring to gun violence. Bipartisanship leadership is not the former right-wing shock jock’s brand.
We will gladly eat crow if Gov. Greg Abbott calls a special session and meaningful background check legislation is signed into law. Patrick has no power to call the legislature back, so his statements yesterday are a meaningless public relations play, unless followed by legislative action.
The state’s black eye from the Texas GOP’s listless response to El Paso’s domestic terrorist attack won’t heal anytime soon. They need all the help they can get.
Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images