Publisher’s note: James Moore is a political analyst, author, and Business Communications consultant who has been writing and reporting on Texas politics since 1975. He is the founder of Big Bend Strategies and publish regularly on Texas to the World. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
(CNN) — Mass shootings have become so common in America that we have developed a pathology about how to react. Aggrieved families who have lost a loved one are the recipients of thoughts and prayers. Law enforcement is praised for preventing the tragedy from escalating into something even more horrific. Counseling is offered to survivors. Politicians flock to the city to express their sympathy and outrage, promising that the newest community will bounce back and remain “tight Texas” or “tight Sandy Hook” or “tight Parkland.”
But nothing happens to prevent another shooting.
We pray. But we do not legislate. And it is clear that prayer is not stopping the killing. In all the statements conservative politicians have made in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two adults were killed, don’t expect to hear a single voice suggesting gun reform. The Second Amendment is always treated as more important than the lives of children. Words like “evil” and “incomprehensible” and “horrible” will be thrown around and, as Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz urged us, we will be encouraged to “unite as a nation”. But I suspect that we – or some of us – have already done so. Some of us got together and decided that no horror caused by weapons can be worse than the restriction of access to them.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a very conservative Republican, appeared before television cameras on Tuesday and said: “When parents drop off their children at school, they trust that they will be able to pick them up when the school day is over.” You’d have to ask the governor how a parent can have that security when he said he was upset that his constituents weren’t buying enough guns.
“I’m ashamed”Abbott tweeted in 2015. “Texas #2 in the nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace, Texans.”
He helped his state compete in that gun-buying contest with California. Just last year, Abbott proudly signed what he called a “constitutional carry”which allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry a gun without obtaining a permit, and did so after the el Paso Mass Murder, in 2019. There is always the mistaken premise that more guns will make it more likely that a killer will be stopped by someone. Before Abbott signed the measure, the carrier license required fingerprints, four to six hours of training, a written exam and a shooting aptitude test.
But that’s over. Guns in Texas won. Regulations and reform lost. It wasn’t even a real fight. However, Governor Abbott is quick to ban the books that offend their political sensibilities, but the possession of weapons cannot be restricted.
However, when President Joe Biden spoke in the hours after the Uvalde tragedy, his words were angry, but mostly aspirational because he knows the political reality facing gun reform advocates. All he has now are the words, and his opponents have the votes. A bill to expand background checks on gun buyers it was approved by the US House of Representatives two years ago, but there is not nearly the number of affirmative votes in the Senate for it to reach the president’s table.
“As a nation,” President Biden said. “We have to ask ourselves when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby groups. When in God’s name are we going to do what we know needs to be done… I’m sick of this. We have to act and not tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.”
Biden noted that the previous assault weapons ban reduced mass murders, but when it was repealed, he said, they tripled. He said the public and politicians need to be encouraged to take on the arms industry and wondered, during his 17-hour flight home from Asia, why the United States is the only nation in the world facing recurring incidents of mass shootings.
“These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen in other parts of the world,” he said. “But they have mental health issues. They have people who are lost… Why are we willing to let this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone? It’s time to turn this pain into action.”
Don’t those other nations have gun lobby groups?
Gun rights advocates appear to have plans as reformers battle a powerful manufacturer lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, and how much regulation is too much.
The Second Amendment does not have to be destroyed to save our country. The Constitution is a living document. Perhaps it needs to be tempered for the times we live in and adjusted from a 1776 context to an era where there are computers that can talk to each other, and guns that can fire an astonishing number of bullets. Isn’t there a law that can be written to mandate that state and federal mental health and criminal and gun purchase databases interact and share information? Are we not smart enough as a culture to find a language that protects our fundamental rights and our children?
The era of mass shootings we live in probably began in Texas on August 1, 1966, when a gunman climbed the University of Texas tower with a high-powered rifle and began shooting people walking by. The Campus. charles whitman he killed 16 people that sunny summer day, after having already murdered his wife and mother. The incident was the first to take place live and was broadcast to a horrified city of Austin. Since then, Texans have seen some towns gain notoriety for obscure reasons. mass murders in Sutherland Springs and in Step and in Santa Fe and in Midland-Odessa and in Dallas and the Killeen cafeteria shooting and a mass murder at Fort Hood. The full list is even longer.
It’s hard to deny that the horrors began here. Now let this be the time and place that creates the political will for Texas to be the place where it ends.