What to Expect from Texas GOP after Uvalde? Another Task Force and Looser Gun Laws

by | May 25, 2022 | Gun violence, News

The bodies of school children in Uvalde are not yet buried, but it is already clear the tragedy in the small Texas town will not be enough to spur Texas lawmakers into passing common sense gun reform. 

This is because Texas Republicans have already presided over one of the deadliest school shootings in America, the Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018 where a 17-year-old student used a revolver and a pump-action shotgun to murder fellow classmates. The killing did not lead to any gun control laws, like universal background checks or red flag laws that are supported by most Texans.

Instead, the school shooting led to the creation of a task force (the governor’s favorite media-friendly way of sweeping things under the rug) and a year later, the passage of looser gun restrictions during the legislative session. 

The slew of new laws made it legal for Texans to carry guns in places of worship, in their cars at school parking lots, and in natural disaster emergency shelters.

When a gunman killed 22 Walmart shoppers in El Paso in 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott created yet another task force and in the following 2021 legislative session Texas Republicans again loosened gun laws, allowing Texans 21 and over to carry a handgun without a background check or permit, allowing hotel guests to carry firearms, making it legal to possess and manufacture firearm silencers, and preventing state resources from being used on federal firearm regulations. 

“Texas will always be the leader in defending the Second Amendment, which is why we built a barrier around gun rights this session,” the governor said while signing the laws.

If it isn’t already clear, the driving ideology behind Republican lawmakers in the state is that flooding the state with guns will make Texans safer. 

Rather than address how mass shooters acquire their firearms, Texas Republicans have instead decided that every conceivable location a mass shooter may strike must be armed to the teeth. Yes, mass shooters may have assault rifles, but hopefully, so do the people they are shooting at. 

The onus on stopping mass shooters has been placed on potential would-be victims, not the state.

As Uvalde demonstrated, it is not a solution. But it will not matter: the list of places where Texans can carry firearms and who can carry firearms will undoubtedly be expanded next legislative session.

That may seem unthinkable in the wake of the killing spree, but it also seemed unthinkable after the Santa Fe shooter gunned down classmates to the tune of “another one bites the dust.”

Following Tuesday’s mass shooting, Republican leaders are already giving signs that their fundamental belief on the issue will not change.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who could not even bring himself to support background check laws after Santa Fe, appeared on Tucker Carlson to say school infrastructure should be designed so that mass shooters have a more difficult time assaulting campuses. He said the same thing after Santa Fe. 

Likewise, Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton both gave interviews where they pushed back against the idea of gun control laws.

Many of these leaders are reportedly slated to speak at the upcoming annual National Rifle Association meeting this weekend in Houston. Will they mention the dead children?

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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