In the wake of not one, but two mass shootings in his state in less than a month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demonstrated on Sunday neither the courage nor the leadership required to confront this country’s epidemic of gun-fueled mass murder, but rather the utter shamelessness of a Republican Party that has made clear time and again that it will do nothing to stop this madness.
NRA-backed Republicans do not care that mass shootings have become a weekly occurrence. Therefore, we must not accept their scripted responses to such horrific events, including: praising first responders and law enforcement officials, however merited that may be; praying for the victims and their families; or promising to “come together as a community.” Unless a politician speaking on behalf of a community affected by gun violence vows to pass tougher gun legislation—and actually follows through with it—ignore their words. Then publicly shame them. And vote them out.
A recent Quinnipiac University Poll found that 93% of those surveyed support universal background checks; 82% support requiring a license to purchase a firearm; 80% support a so-called red flag law; and 60% support a ban on assault weapons.
“In a country gripped by political polarization, American voters are united in their message to Congress: do more to reduce gun violence,” Quinnipiac University Poll analyst Mary Snow said.
Abbott faced a tall order on Sunday: attending a news conference after a mass shooting on the day that bills he signed into law took effect legalizing guns almost everywhere in Texas—including churches, schools, and areas affected by natural disasters. In doing so, his words not only were resoundingly meaningless, they also were deeply offensive. The governor didn’t mention the new gun laws in his state, and it isn’t hard to figure out why.
Worse, he appeared to actually defend them by noting that the assault-style rifles used in both mass shootings in Texas this month, which claimed at least 29 lives and injured scores more, weren’t used in every mass shooting in the state going back decades. Let that sink in.
Abbott also didn’t explain how in both this weekend’s attacks in Odessa and Midland, and the Aug. 3 massacre in El Paso, white, male shooters armed with AK- and AR-style assault weapons were able to destroy so many lives in a matter of minutes without a “good guy with a gun” stopping them until it was too late.
Here’s what Abbott did say:
“Let me say this: I have been to too many of these events. As governor, the first one I went to was after the shooting in downtown Dallas that killed police officers, as well as others. Then there was Sutherland Springs, where 26 people were killed. Then there was Santa Fe High School, where 10 people were killed. And then, less than a month ago, there was a shooting in El Paso. Well, I’m heartbroken by the crying of the people of the state of Texas. I’m tired of the dying of the people of the state of Texas.”
Governor, if you’re so tired of this, then do something. Otherwise, resign.
Abbott spoke other vague words about the “status quo in Texas” being “unacceptable” and “action” being “needed.” He claimed he’s “worked” on several “solutions” that can be implemented by lawmakers and, strangely, himself.
“We’re going to look at every issue. There’s no issue that we will not look at. And we’re going to be working with legislators to find out what the best solutions are for Texas,” he said.
The best solutions are actually pretty simple: Do the opposite of what you’ve been doing.
He added, “We must broaden our efforts…and we must do so quickly. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals like the killer here in Odessa, while also assuring that we safeguard Second Amendment rights.”
Now, some people actually stood up and clapped at this, which is just...sad.
Watch the entire news conference below or go here to read about the victims, who include a 25-year-old visiting his family; a 15-year-old who just celebrated her quinceañera; a 40-year-old former teacher; a 29-year-old postal worker who was on the phone with her sister when she was killed; and a 17-month-old baby girl who had part of her face shot off but who will survive.