By State Representative, Leon D. Young
America has some serious soul-searching to do! In the wake of two more school shootings last week in Texas and Georgia, it remains to be seen if federal and state lawmakers, and Republicans in particular, are finally ready to introduce some meaningful measures to thwart the never-ending gun violence that plagues this nation.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican and staunch gun rights defender, wasted no time in announcing his plan to convene “roundtable discussions” on how to curb gun violence. In the aftermath of the horrific high school shooting that left 10 dead and 13 wounded, the governor went on record as having said:
”We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It’s time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again in the history of the state of Texas.”
This all sounds well and good on its face. But, before we get too excited Abbott’s new-found religion on gun control, we should examine what precisely is this Republican governor proposing? And, equally important, is he truly interested in adequately addressing this issue?
After the second day of discussions on school and gun safety in the aftermath of the Santa Fe High School shooting, Gov. Abbott has listed several gun-related regulations he said he could support.
• Providing a grant to the Texas School Safety Center to train local school districts and law enforcement agencies on collaboration.
• Creating a statewide threat assessment system.
• Expanding a Lubbock program aimed at preventing at-risk students from committing violent acts.
• Creating a list of recommendations for all schools on how they can immediately make their school safer, like re-evaluating entrances and exits and placing law enforcement inside schools.
• Reporting the loss or theft of a gun.
• Shortening the time to report a mental health court judgment.
• After a mental health adjudication, denying a person the ability to access a gun.
• Promoting the safe storage of guns.
• Improving background checks and “red flag” warnings, where authorities could take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous.
And to no one’s surprise, noticeably absence from these discussions, to date, has been the thorny issue of assault weapons. Let’s not be naïve. Texas is an ultra-red state, and its current governor, Greg Abbott, has built his whole reputation around Second Amendment issues. He’s up for re-election and many believe that his “softening stance” on gun control is merely a campaign ploy, intended to garner votes.