What do Texas’ candidates for governor plan to do about guns, mass shootings?

·2 min read

Democrat Beto O’Rourke confronted Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday during a news conference at Uvalde High School.

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said to Abbott before he was removed from the event.

Abbott was flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the state senate, and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

O’Rourke, a Democrat who faces Abbott for governor in November, knows the pains of mass shootings all to well after a gunman killed 23 people at a Walmart in 2019 in his hometown of El Paso. O’Rourke was campaigning for president at the time.

“The moment to stop Uvalde was right after Sandy Hook. After Santa Fe High. After El Paso,” O’Rourke wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “Instead, Abbott made it easier to carry guns in public. The moment to stop the next slaughter is right now.”

In subsequent posts he laid blame on Abbott and lawmakers.

“These massacres aren’t natural disasters, acts of God, or random,” O’Rourke said. ”They are totally predictable, direct consequences of the choices made by Greg Abbott and the majority of those in the legislature.”

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary in the attack.

Hours after Tuesday’s shooting, Abbott issued a statement mourning the loss of lives and offering state resources. He did not mention potential policy solutions to prevent mass shootings.

Abbott’s campaign declined to comment when asked for an interview with the governor to discuss potential responses to mass shootings, including potential legislation related to gun safety and access. O’Rourke’s campaign did not make him immediately available.

“Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde,” Abbott said in the Tuesday statement. “Cecilia and I mourn this horrific loss and we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering.”

Texas has had multiple mass shootings in recent years, including at a church in Sutherland Springs, a Santa Fe High School and in the Midland-Odessa area.

Abbott created tasks forces — The Texas Safety Commission and the Domestic Terrorism Task Force — following the El Paso shooting in August 2019 and issued several executive orders to improve law enforcement training and the reporting of suspicious activity. A Texas Safety Action Report included a recommendation to make background checks more accessible for private gun sales (Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had expressed support for stranger-to-stranger background checks for gun sales) but no such proposal passed during the 2021 session.

In 2019, after Abbott held roundtables and issued a school safety plan in response to the 2018 Santa Fe shooting, lawmakers passed laws to bolster school safety, mental health resources and school marshals.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting