A scenario that has become all too familiar in Texas tragically unfolded again on Saturday afternoon. A shooting at Allen Premium Outlets killed eight people and left seven injured (with three in critical condition). The gunman, who was 33-years-old and a former security guard, also died.
The reports that streamed from the scene showed chaos and confusion, as the outlets were evacuated. Collin County resident Steven Spainhouer spoke to 12 News Now and recounted a devastating scene when he first encountered a young girl who had been shot, and “had no face.” But he did find another child, a boy who survived because his mother (who is now dead) protected him.
Spainhouer called the whole ordeal “unfathomable,” and that he would not wish this on anybody. “It’s tough when you see a family that’s out shopping, having fun, get wiped off of the face of the earth because somebody with a gun has some type of issue.”
In the aftermath of another mass shooting in our state, Republicans retreated to their well-worn catchphrases. Thoughts and prayers. Always the thoughts and prayers. Congressman Keith Self, who represents Collin County where the shooting took place, was asked on CNN about his response to critics who claim prayers aren’t preventing more shootings. “Well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty God who is absolutely in control of our lives.”
Self also said this was not a time for politics and tried to pivot to mental health. Bizarrely, he claimed without any evidence that the United States made the decision to close mental health institutions.
Greg Abbott was on Fox News this morning and rejected calls for gun safety legislation, noting that California has more shooting deaths than Texas. Governor Gavin Newsom pointed out that California is a much bigger state, and that the gun death rate in Texas is 73 percent higher.
Abbott also told Fox News that over the past three sessions, Texas has been focused on increasing mental health initiatives, which he deemed the root cause of violence. Abbott’s claims ring hollow considering that Texas is just one of ten states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.
The Texas Tribune has chronicled the rise of mass shootings in Texas with the loosening of gun laws. Permitless carry, which allows anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in public without a permit, went into effect in September 2021. Guns remain the leading cause of death in children in this country and state.
Still, Republicans have their thoughts and prayers. State Rep. Jarvis Johnson criticized his fellow colleague, State Rep. Jeff Leach, who represents the district where the shooting took place after he issued a statement invoking those cliches. Johnson is calling upon Leach to support measures that could finally see gun deaths decrease in the state.
Gun safety legislation is broadly supported throughout the country. A poll from Fox News recently showed that 77 percent of Americans believe in a thirty-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. In Texas, 72 percent of Texans support red flag laws according to the University of Texas.
The clock is ticking in the legislature to vote on House Bill 2744, also known as the Raise the Age Act from Rep. Tracy King of Uvalde. It would raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy an assault rifle. State Rep. Ryan Guillen, who is the chair of the Community Safety Committee, has not put it up for a vote despite pleas from the Uvalde families. The deadline for such a vote is Monday.
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).