We have a serious gun problem in America. After two high-profile mass shootings in quick succession, everyone, it seems, is talking about how we solve this problem.
Everyone, that is, except Republican politicians like Governor Greg Abbott.
The NRA lauded the most recent regular session of the Texas legislature as a “major victory,” in which three bills and one constitutional amendment passed. These were open carry for concealed handgun license holders (which Abbott signed at a shooting range), campus carry, and a bill that cracks down on certain state agencies, cities, and counties attempting to limit open carry on certain premises.
The constitutional amendment’s language – affirming the right of Texans to hunt and fish – is almost laughable, except for the narrative behind it: that gun-toting Texans must guard against an ever-present threat to their second amendment rights by placing completely useless language into the state’s constitution. The amendment passed with 81% of the vote. Of course.
Republican leaders like Greg Abbott are so preoccupied proving their conservatism to primary voters who have been driven into a frenzy by fear mongering and propaganda that they are completely and willfully ignorant of the impact gun violence is having on our state.
Shooting Tracker, a site dedicated to tracking and recording information about shootings in which four or more people are shot and/or killed, reports that this has happened 21 times in Texas in this year alone.
While Texas’ rate of deaths due to gun violence is about average for the United States, at least forty children have died as a result of gun violence just in the state of Texas, just in the last two years.
An “average” rate of 10.6 gun deaths per 100,000 in a state of almost 27 million people is terrifying. What’s more frightening is how desensitized a person must become to the reality of gun violence to be able see Texas’ average standing as a positive. This way of thinking comes from an assumption that death due to gun violence is unavoidable. In America, and especially in Texas, this assumption has become an accepted truth.
A part of that accepted truth is the well-worn argument that the only solution for the unavoidable bad guy wielding a firearm is a good guy who is equally armed and ready to respond. But even when there is a “good guy” with a gun, mass shootings still happen. An arguably great person with a gun died at the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs, and almost twenty were killed (and nearly fifty injured) in the 2009 and 2014 shootings at Fort Hood here in Texas.
Even in a military base in one of the most pro-gun states in the nation, the “good guys” with guns still couldn’t stop the carnage.
And here is the real kicker. Greg Abbott is leading a party whose policies and platforms are based entirely in fear. Whether it’s the “gay agenda’s” assault on traditional values or the threat of undocumented immigrants coming to steal your jobs, the modern-day Texan Republican is well-versed in the language and construction of fear. But when it comes to something that should be genuinely terrifying, the reality that our friends, and family, and children are living under the near-constant threat of gun violence, the leaders of the party are not just silent – they are encouraging the proliferation of guns and relaxing regulations on their use.
Perhaps this is because it is easier to point the finger at refugees from a war-torn country than it is to deal with terror in your own back yard – or the role you play in creating it.