We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country but Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick believes it’s too difficult for Texans to get guns. He is even willing to recite shoddy research on national television to spread the gospel of guns on behalf of his paranoid Tea Party base.
This is identity politics. Patrick is exploiting the fear, anger and paranoia of his political base. It is political correctness, as in more guns is always the correct answer — facts be damned.
Conversely, when it comes to voting, the self-proclaimed advocate of small government hasn’t seen a regulation he doesn’t like. Last year the Texas Tribune summed up their conversation with the Lt. Gov. writing, “Patrick said the state doesn’t need to make it easier to vote. He said voters should be informed and study the issues.” Patrick had told the Tribune, “If people don’t show up and vote, they’re either happy or they don’t care.”
In Patrick’s Texas guns are such a sacred cow that a concealed handgun license actually serves as a valid Voter ID, but a student ID does not.
When a federal court struck down part of the Texas Voter ID law as intentionally discriminatory, Patrick said, “There was never any intention of preventing anyone from voting who is legally qualified to do so. It was designed to make sure that every vote that is cast is done so lawfully.”
It is further revealing that Patrick would say such regulations are needed to solve the near non-existent issue of in person voter fraud, but ignore the real crime of 100,000 Americans being shot by other Americans every year.
Now, after Patrick helped prioritize and pass open carry, advocates are ready to push for the removal of all background checks and training requirements to openly carry firearms. It’s what they wanted this time, and Governor Abbott has already agreed he will sign it.
Open Carry Texas leader CJ Grisham appeared on MSNBC to talk about his plans to push “constitutional carry” through the Texas legislature in 2017. Like Patrick he tried to claim open carry laws reduce crime and was called to task by the host. Grisham admitted that was likely the case but insisted that was beside the point anyway. “No, my responsibility as a gun owner is to not kill somebody that’s not justified. My responsibility is not to stop someone else from killing somebody, my responsibility is to keep myself safe,” he said.
In its round-up of fact-checking Meet the Press politifact found that refuted statistics were being used to make the case for liberalizing gun laws. Patrick’s statement in question: “Everywhere that we have more citizens carrying guns, crime is less. There’s a study showing that where states have open carry or concealed carry, but particularly open carry, the crime is down 25 percent.”
Politifact’s ruling: “It’s possible that Patrick is referencing a disputed study by gun rights advocate John Lott and getting some details wrong. Lott’s study shows a 25 percent decrease in murder and violent crime across the country from 2007 to 2014, as well as a 178 percent rise in the number of concealed-carry permits. Those two trends may be correlated, but experts say there’s no evidence showing causation. Further, gun laws may have little to nothing to do with rates of falling crime. We rate Patrick’s claim Mostly False.”
Media Matters describes Lott as a man who, “often advocates for weaker gun laws by manipulating statistics about firearms and by touting his discredited research that purports to prove looser rules concerning the carrying of guns in public reduces crime.”
Most Texans don’t believe we will see a major increase in gun violence because of open carry, but it is clear from the numbers of major businesses banning the practice that many people are intimidated by unknown individuals displaying handguns. The GOP led by Abbott and Patrick have decided that political correctness, or “the politics of grievance” as Erica Greider of the Texas Monthly calls it, with their fringe paranoid base carries more electoral valuable than their business-friendly reputation. And you can thank low turnout and voter intimidation for that.
In fact, Patrick responded to the President Obama’s executive action to reduce gun violence by claiming “he should make it easier” to purchase guns. And he unironically said the President’s announcement was “political posturing.”
It simply doesn’t make sense that Patrick so adamantly campaigned to photo ID every voter, but oppose a standard background check for any gun purchase. And it’s hard to believe thoughts and prayers are sincere when they remain the only efforts to stop gun violence.
— Mark Wiggins (@MarkW_KVUE) January 5, 2016