BY JOSHUA FECHTER, Texas Tribune, texastribune.org
In the hours after a gunman killed more than 20 people at a South Texas elementary school Tuesday, the state’s top Republicans sought to immediately squelch the possibility of gun control measures in the wake of yet another mass shooting.
As the death toll mounted from the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde and President Joe Biden vowed to push for stricter gun laws, Texas Republicans made it clear that any kind of gun restriction in response to the tragedy was off the table.
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”
In an appearance on the far-right television network Newsmax, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly dismissed the notion of enacting restrictions on firearms — reasoning that shooters wouldn’t follow the law anyway.
“I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time,” Paxton said.
Meanwhile, Biden called for a renewed push to reform the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the shooting during a nationwide address Tuesday evening.
“We as a nation have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden said.
In the wake of mass shootings at Santa Fe High School in 2018 and a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, Texas Republicans vowed to take steps to prevent similar killing sprees in the future and passed laws that cover issues like identifying potentially dangerous students, training school employees to deal with emergencies and giving teachers more access to guns.
But in gun-friendly Texas, any laws restricting access to firearms have been a nonstarter. Instead, state legislators have expanded access to firearms — including with a law allowing residents to carry guns without a permit.
On Tuesday, Republican officials revived ideas to stop future mass shooters — arming teachers and school administrators, putting more police officers on campusand limiting entryways to school buildings.
“We have to harden these targets so that no one can get in ever except through one entrance,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson in an appearance on Fox News. “Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, Cruz and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to talk in Houston on Friday at the National Rifle Association’s 2022 annual meeting. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s Democratic opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, called on Abbott to skip the convention and tell the NRA to take the convention elsewhere.
“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas,” O’Rourke tweeted Tuesday night.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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