No doubt, Gov. Greg Abbott is as devastated as most Texans over the tragedy at Santa Fe High School, the senseless loss of 10 more people to gun violence. But what, if anything, will he do about it?
As he convened roundtables on the issue, Abbott suggested metal detectors for school buildings, speeding up background checks for gun purchases and trying to keep guns out of the hands of people who “pose immediate danger” to others.
But Abbott is a governor in a reelection year who counts passionate gun-rights advocates among his political base. He is a governor who, upon learning three years ago that Texas was second to California in new gun sales, tweeted: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.”
That tweet was featured this week by a pro-gun rights blogger, who sought to reassure his readers that they didn’t need to worry about Gov. Abbott flying off the Second Amendment rails and doing something rational. Something like putting additional restrictions on guns, which Gov. Rick Scott of Florida did when he signed a new gun law following the Parkland school shootings in Florida.
“In case you haven’t noticed, Texas isn’t Florida,” wrote Dan Zimmerman, managing editor of thetruthaboutguns.com, a pro-gun rights blog. “Republicans control every branch of state government and Abbott’s been a frequent, dependable and vocal promoter of gun rights and the Second Amendment. He’s supported both open carry and campus carry in this state and signed both into law.”
Zimmerman predicted Abbott will not do what the Florida governor did following Parkland. Abbott, he said, will not sign a bill raising the minimum age to buy firearms, banning bump fire stocks – which enable guns to be fired more rapidly – and imposing a three-day waiting period on long gun purchases. (None of those steps would have had any effect on the Santa Fe shooter, but they could help curtail future violence.)
“You’ll probably sooner see the Governor (Abbott) propose a bill outlawing barbecued brisket and Lone Star Beer,” Zimmerman wrote.
He predicted: “Our guess is that the result of these meetings (Abbott’s roundtables on gun violence) will be a white paper and possible legislation aimed at making schools harder targets. Restricting outside access, use of metal detectors, adding more armed School Resource Officers and encouraging more districts to allow teachers, administrators and other employees to carry firearms, if they wish.”
That would fit Abbott’s political resume, but we will find out soon enough.