Gun politics take center stage in race for Texas governor after Uvalde shooting

Gun control is the hot topic of the day and likely the rest of the year after the horrific Uvalde shootings that left 19 children and two adults dead – and this issue has taken on equal prominence in the running for governor of Texas.

Challenger Beto O’Rourke, the only known number on the Texas Democratic candidate slate, has meandered for a long time on this issue throughout its time in the political spotlight. First in 2018, he refused to support AR-15 and AK-47 buybacks. Then, as he ran for president, he leaned completely into the position, telling a debating crowd, “Damn, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

This time around, O’Rourke changed his stance even further.

In February, he told town hall attendees that he was “not interested in taking anything from anyone.” He then quickly abandoned that position, saying that if he could find a consensus, he would push for an AR-15 and AK-47 buyback program.

It now looks like the position is here to stay for the Democrat, who told a McAllen Rally on June 7 that such a program would be on the agenda of his extraordinary session if he were the governor – tempering it slightly by saying that “we may have to compromise on it”.

By a report by FoxNewsO’Rourke’s campaign website was changed after the Uvalde shooting.

Other gun-related items on O’Rourke’s list of special sessions are red flag laws, which allow community members to petition a court for the temporary confiscation of a person’s firearms. seen as a threat to themselves or others; safe storage laws, to enforce regulations on how firearms can be stored; and Universal Background Checks, which require private gun sellers to complete official background checks.

O’Rourke also called for the repeal of unlicensed carrying, also known as constitutional carrying, which the legislature past in the 2021 session – a call that predates the Uvalde shooting but has since received more airtime. This law allowed most Texans over the age of 21 to carry a handgun in public without a license to carry (LTC).

Anyone otherwise legally prohibited from owning a firearm, such as felons, cannot carry under the law. He also preserved transport bans in certain public spaces such as public schools.

Without Texas LTC, individuals may not carry a handgun within 1,000 feet of a school and transportation within a school is strictly prohibited without written permission from the school.

On offense, O’Rourke clarified his position on the matter and laid the blame on his opponent’s feet.

Abbott was less specific than O’Rourke on policy recommendations, opting more for in-depth assessments of the situation and potential policy prescriptions.

“There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that restrict the possession or use of firearms,” Abbott told the National Rifle Association convention in a pre-recorded message delivered the day after the Uvalde shooting.

Abbott was to speak in person but changed plans because of the shooting. “Laws that have failed to prevent madmen from committing evil acts on innocent people and peaceful communities.”

Pointing to already existing prohibitions, Abbott continued, “At Uvalde, the shooter committed a felony under Texas law before he even pulled the trigger.”

But in that speech, Abbott did not suggest a legal response of any kind to the shooting. Since, Abbott demand special commissions in both houses of the legislature to investigate the shooting and recommend policy responses.

The five elements of this request from the governor are school safety, mental health, social media, police training and gun safety.

After the 2018 Santa Fe high school shooting, Abbott asked the legislature to consider red flag laws, which never developed. This time around, Abbott did not push such a policy in the same way. And after the 2019 filming in El Paso, expanded background check requirements for private sales were floated but did not materialize.

In a letter at the Texas Education Agency, Abbott requested a school safety assessment that included the “development[ment of] strategies to encourage school districts to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school trustees on campuses.

Last year, the legislature past a bill allowing school trustees, designated school officials, to carry handguns on their person rather than keeping them locked away in a handy safe.

Other policy proposals regarding the Uvalde shooting will likely appear on Abbott’s emergency items next year when the legislature reconvenes — a list that allows the House and Senate to begin work on those. specific items sooner than they otherwise could due to statutory deadlines.

Much of Abbott’s rhetoric after the shooting has focused on mental health and the state put $5 million for a family resilience center in Uvalde County that will provide a variety of mental health services following the shooting. Although it currently focuses on issues arising from the tragedy, it is also intended to serve the community in the future.

Negotiations at the federal level are ongoing, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) playing a lead role in the talks. But the state’s response will be on hold until 2023 — unless Abbott decides to call a special session by then — and in the meantime, gun policy will remain a focal point of every race in Texas. this year, especially the one at the top of the ticket. .

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