More Police, Less Exits, But No Significant Tightening Of Gun Laws
HOUSTON - MAY 30, 2018
Earlier this month after a student armed with a sawed-off shotgun and a revolver killed 10 people at a high school outside Houston, former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul released an ominous statement claiming that a source they have in the Senate revealed Democrats are teaming up with Republicans to push through a massive gun control bill.
According to their source, as Paul explained, “Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are teaming up with Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ram through one of the worst nationwide gun confiscation schemes ever devised.”
The gun confiscation bill, according to Paul, is designed to disarm Americans without any due process. The senators are using the recent tragic shooting in Texas as the impetus behind the law—in spite of the fact that this law would not have prevented the shooting at all.
But two weeks later Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas declared about “severe measures” that should be taken to protect schools from shooting. In particular he proposed spending more than $100 million to put more police and armed guards on school campuses and expand programs to identify students at risk of engaging in mass violence.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, also proposed stepping up security at schools by limiting the number of entrances and exits, and installing alarms specifically designated to warn of active shooters.
But his school safety plan contained only modest changes to gun laws: He proposed requiring parents to keep firearms locked away from children under the age of 18, a tightening of current law which requires such controls for families with children younger than 17. He also proposed improvements to the system for reporting felony convictions and adjudications of mental illness, both of which trigger prohibitions on gun possession under federal law.
“I will never allow Second Amendment rights to be infringed, but I will always promote responsible gun ownership, which includes keeping guns safe and keeping them out of the hands of criminals,” Mr. Abbott said.
It was no surprise that the proposals presented on Wednesday by Mr. Abbott, who is running for re-election this year, were heavily skewed toward hardening schools and bolstering campus security and mental health programs, while failing to endorse any significant new restrictions on gun ownership or sales.
Mr. Abbott is a staunch gun rights advocate who has urged Texans to buy more guns. And he is governor in a state where polling indicates that far more Republicans — the party that controls every major political office in Texas — blame mass shootings on failures of the mental health system than they do on the failure to pass more gun laws.
A series of round tables on school safety organized by Mr. Abbott after the Santa Fe shooting excluded most influential gun control and teachers’ organizations, and were seen by many as stacked against any significant tightening of gun laws.
The movement to boost gun controls became a major political issue in Florida after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February, leading the Republican governor, Rick Scott, a die-hard National Rifle Association supporter who faces a tough contest for a Senate seat this year, to back new restrictions.
In the wake of that shooting, Mr. Scott, with support from the Republicans who control the Florida Legislature, as well as Democrats, approved increasing the age to buy any gun in that state to 21; imposing a three-day waiting period for firearms purchases; establishing a red flag law; and banning bump stocks, which can make semiautomatic rifles fire almost like automatic weapons.
Any political effort resembling what happened in Florida would be harder in Texas, experts say. While gun control advocates consider Florida a permissive, pro-gun state, Texas is even more permissive, allowing gun owners to openly carry their handguns.
Two weeks before the Santa Fe shooting, Mr. Abbott made clear his leanings in a speech at an N.R.A. convention in Dallas, where he said the answer to gun violence was “to strengthen Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens.”
He suggested that some parents were among the true culprits in the escalating gun violence at schools. “You know, someone said that the problem is not guns,” Mr. Abbott said. “The problem is hearts without God. It’s homes without discipline. It’s communities without values.”